Lent 3 C

Lectionary Catechesis
Fr. Alan Hartway, CPPS
Guardian Angels Parish in Mead, CO

Human life is frail, given to the distractions of the world and subject to the whim of bad luck and needing to be set free from the oppression of the world’s domination. God appears to Moses and in the person of Jesus Christ to save us from slavery to sin and to accompany us in mercy on our own journey to Jerusalem. The readings give us graphic examples as exemplars of divine intervention in our history. Our response is one of blessing and praising God who appears to us.

FIRST READING: Exodus 3, 1-8a. 13-15

Moses had fled Egypt because he murdered an Egyptian. He is in Midian at a well where the daughters of Reuel come for water; he defends them from menacing shepherds. Reuel, a priest, acknowledges Moses’ honor and integrity and offers his daughter Zipporah in marriage. Moses settles and shepherds there. Meanwhile the oppression of the Hebrew slaves worsens. An indefinite time later, Moses is shepherding at Mt. Horeb in the desert. Then and there he encounters God at the burning bush. God begins by calling Moses by name and by narrating God’s awareness of the oppression of the people in Egypt. God chooses Moses to send him back to Egypt to lead the people out. Moses resists and needs assurance that he has divine support. Here begins our passage with the revelation of God’s name. Our text is a very small portion of the whole. The connection between naming and calling stands out here. The presence of God in His name and in His existence may be more weight than a homily can hold.

Vss. 1-10: CCC 2575 The burning bush is an example of God’s initiative in history in which God reveals God acting to saving us. Prayer and presence help us attune our will to God.

Vss. 5-6: CCC 208 The human person is humbled in the awe of God’s presence because God is holy.

Vs. 5: CCC 2777 In the Latin version of the Roman liturgy, “we dare to say” is parrhesia, and it is from God’s self that we empowered with the boldness to pray.

Vs. 6: CCC 205, 207 God calls Moses from the burning bush to remember the cry of the people, make further promises, and to heal and save them. God reveals God’s identity. The revelation of God’s name is not merely an at of identification, but also of action and power in history.

Vss. 7-10: CCC 1867 “Sin is a personal act.” Yet we also sin by cooperating with others, advising them, or protecting others in sin.

Vss. 13-15: CCC 205 cf. above.

KNOW YOUR FAITHWhat is the name of God?

What does it mean to say, “God is holy”?
LIVE YOUR FAITHShare or reflect on your most awe filled experience of God.
Note why God reveals God to Moses. Why does God act in human history?
SHARE YOUR FAITHAfter the encounter with God, Moses is sent. In what way are we also sent after our Eucharistic encounter?

When we evangelize we share God, not ourselves, with others. How do we share God with others?
WORSHIPReflect on the invitation of the celebrant at the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer: “At the Savior’s command, and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say.”Name the ways we acknowledge the divine presence in the liturgy by word and gesture.

First Reading     

RESPONSORIAL: Psalm 103, 1-2. 3-4. 6-7. 8. 11

This psalm amplifies the naming of and actions of God who rescues the captives and the oppressed. Vss 8 and 11 stress God’s mercy. In the rest of the psalm the author sees that God recognizes the fragility of the human situation (vss. 14-16). Our human response to God’s intervention in history is trust and the praise of thanksgiving.

Psalm 103: 304 The Holy Spirit inspires Scripture to teach that God is the primary and absolute cause; God is Lord of history, and in that history God is teaching us trust.

KNOW YOUR FAITHFrom the Psalm, name the actions of God, in other words what God does.

Some people seem to think that the God of the Old Testament is the God of wrath and anger, contrary to this Psalm. Reflect on the Church’s experience of God’s mercy and loving kindness.
LIVE YOUR FAITHWhat is your own personal experience of God’s mercy?

How does your being bless God?
SHARE YOUR FAITHGod secures justice and the rights of the oppressed. Draw the connection between this work of God and the work of the Church for others.

Share the ways that praying this psalm would convert your heart to God.
WORSHIPWhat does it mean in the Bible to say “to those who fear God.”?

What glimpses of high heaven to you get in the liturgy?

Responsorial Psalm

SECOND READING: I Corinthians 10, 1-6. 10-12

The exodus events are repeated so that Paul can make the point of interpreting these events in a very practical way into our own lives. The method of biblical interpretation by ways of “types” is set out. A type is a person, place, or event in the Hebrew Testament that prefigures something that will happen in the New Testament, and by extension suggests a template or model for our own lives. So regarding the exodus events that Paul references, we come to see our own passing over from slavery to sin to liberation in the resurrection. The forty year desert journey is our own journey through this world of many temptations.

Vss. 1-11: CCC 129 The Hebrew Scripture is read by Christian in the light of the resurrection, the Old Testament has its own value in itself.  

Vss. 1-6: CCC 1094 The Scripture is in harmony, and catechsis teaches its truths. A “type” is a figure that points forward in some way to Christ, eg, the lamb sacrificed by Abraham instead of his son Isaac.

Vs. 11: CCC 117, 128, 2175 At the beginning of the Church the two oldest forms of interpretatinof the Scripture as the literal and the spiritual sense. The spiritual sense has an allegorical, moral, and anagogic interpretation. St. John Cassian: “ Litera gesta docet / quid credas allegoria / moralis quid agas / quo tendas anagogia.” The apostolic community, by quoting and referring to the Old Testament, understood its full value; a consistent historical divine plan is displayed. One of he first methods of interpretation was typology. The final citation regards the Sunday fulfillment of Christ’s Passover mystery as fulfilling the Sabbath.

KNOW YOUR FAITHWhat are the four senses of the Scripture developed by the time of John Cassian?

What is a “type”?
LIVE YOUR FAITHPaul writes that the Biblical events happened as examples for us. What example to you get from the events of the first reading from Exodus?

What does Paul tell us about the importance of the Scripture?
SHARE YOUR FAITHName the evil things we unfortunately find ourselves desiring.

How does our own culture correspond to the culture of the people of Israel while traversing the desert?
WORSHIPHow is your Sunday worship the fulfillment of your week?

What do you do during the Liturgy of the Word to stay attentive to the Word of God?

Second Reading

GOSPEL: Luke 13, 1-9 Commenting on Consequences and the Parable of the Fig Tree

The evangelist presents the questions of the people and the discourse of Jesus as if at a supper at the house of a Pharisee that began at Luke 11, 37 and following to 13, 9. The people, the disciples, and the Pharisees have many questions and concerns. These questions and responses seemed disconnected and perhaps edited together. The scene is a bit tumultuous, what with everyone pressing in on Jesus. Jesus gives a number of sayings and briefer parables, but there are no miracles at this supper. Sin is punished by disaster for the sinner (Dt. 28-30 and Job 4, 17). Jesus seems to take instances regularly understood by folk religion to be punishment for sin, and turns them upside down to talk instead about the inevitability of death and fragility of human life. Of course the references also point to his own impending encounter in Jerusalem. Luke may also take the sayings to argue that Jesus did not die on the cross because of his sins, but ours. Because of these two facts, repentance should be a constant stance of the disciple. The fruit that the disciples ought to be is mercy and a humble attitude of repentance. Luke is using the two commentaries and the short parable to point to the meaning of his own journey to Jerusalem. So these three sayings have a relevance for us this Lent to reflect on our frailty.

KNOW YOUR FAITHIf bad things happen to people, can we say that God must surely be punishing them? If your answer is no, then explain.

These are really three unusual parables or commentary from Jesus. Find in these three sayings the presence of the mercy of God.

Name the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
LIVE YOUR FAITHHow does the gardener show mercy to the fruitless fig tree?

What is the fruit of the Holy Spirit that you are bearing right now?
SHARE YOUR FAITHWhen people are being judgmental around you, what techniques to you have to turn the conversation around to the topic of God’s mercy?

All the gospels are given to us for evangelization. Where is this evangelization in these three examples from Jesus?
WORSHIPWhat does this gospel story have to do with our worship?  

Jesus is commenting on a perennial Jansenism pervading people of simple faith. It runs like this: we’ve sinned and are unworthy, but our own actions can win God’s favor, excluding any room for mercy and grace. How does grace enter the human condition?


Next Sunday: LENT 4 C:  Joshua 5, 9a. 10-12; Psalm 34; I Corinthians 5, 17-21;  Luke 15, 1-3. 11-32

*Featured image credit

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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