3rd Sunday of Lent - Sunday, March 20, 2022

Father Jim Donohue's picture

Father Jim Donohue

March 17, 2022

Usually the link between the first reading and the gospel reading is apparent.   However, this Sunday we may have to look more closely; but once we see the link, we will hear news of great joy!  The first reading from the Book of Exodus contains the well-known story of God speaking to Moses in the burning bush, giving him instructions to go to Egypt and to tell the Pharaoh to set the Israelites free.  The Gospel from Luke is a call by Jesus to the repentance of sins. 

Certainly the first reading contains a message of relief and joy for the people of Israel who have been enslaved in captivity.  God, in his conversation with Moses, notes, “I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering.”  Sent as God’s emissary, Moses’ task is to set them free of slavery, but also to lead them “into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”   The good news for the Israelites is that they will be set free from captivity and given a life of goodness and abundance. 

Throughout the Old Testament, God continues to hold out a choice for people, a choice of “blessing or curse.”  As God’s people, Israel can choose to be faithful to God and the covenant, which will bring the fullness of life.  Or, Israel can choose to follow “strange gods,” which will bring destruction and death.  We can identify the same pattern in our lives today.  In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church provides great insight when it maintains that sin “is a failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods” (art. 1849).  We end up ordering our lives around and becoming attached to lesser goods, neglecting more important goods.  We find that our lives soon echo the words of the Psalmist who described Israel’s choice: “They exchange the glory of God for an ox that eats grass” (Ps 106:20). 

Jesus’ call to repentance reminds us that living in sin is like being held captive, disordering our lives, and preventing us from leading truly happy lives.  The good news is that Jesus offers forgiveness, which, as the Resurrectionist Constitutions remind us, “leads to a new experience of God’s love because he is ready to forgive and come to our aid” (art. 1).  Acknowledging our sins and accepting God’s forgiveness in Christ will reorder our lives and lead us to fullness of life that Jesus desires and makes possible for us.