Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fire in the Desert (2010 Mar. 7, Lent)

This is my homily for 7 March 2010, Lent 3rd Sunday. Feel free to respond with comments. To view the readings, go to and click “March 7” in the calendar.

Exodus 3:1-8a, 13:-15 | Psalm 103 | 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12 | Luke 13: 1-9

[__01.] In the Gospel today, we hear about the fig tree. The fig tree which does not produce good fruit, the fig tree which is not productive.

Sometimes, we might not feel very productive either. The Good News is that we still have time. The message from the gardener is that he wants to work on our soil, on our environment to help us out.

This is Jesus who comes into our world, into our soil, taking on our human nature. Jesus intercedes for us to give us more time to turn back to him.

Moses is also invited to turn back to God -- at the scene of a fire.

Fires and investigations go together.

However, our faith is that fire, the fire of the Holy Spirit, is not one that leads to an investigation out there (in a building somewhere – perhaps on the edge of town where something has burned) but rather to an examination– in here, in our hearts.

In the Book of Psalms we read:

“Your word is a lamp for my steps and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105)

Your word – is a fire -- is a lamp for my steps and a light for my path.

There are pain and suffering which can result from fire. These are the fires we want to escape.

Fires also exist to prevent injury and loss; they are built for comfort and safety in the dark. A campfire.

[__02.] In our reading today from the Book of the Exodus, chapter 3, Moses is in the desert / wilderness alone. And, he has been there for some time. He is probably
accustomed to building his own fires and is accustomed to his own independent
ways. Now, he sees a fire that he did not build.

Moses sees a fire in a bush which is not consumed by flames.

At first, this is Moses the experienced wilderness wanderer and resident-shepherd of the flock who wants to see what is up with the burning bush.

He is curious.

[__03.] In our 40 days of Lent, we are invited to a sense of curiosity and exploration also. Not only are repentance and humility are part of our journey but also imagination and creativity about where God is.

In order to survive the desert, Moses has been using all of his imaginative and creative powers.

What is happening at this fire scene?

[__04.] Thie is the fire from which Moses wants to escape. The Lord wants him to go to Pharoah to rescue the Hebrew people from slavery.

But, Moses protests that this he is not the right applicant for this job:

He tells the Lord in the “interview”

 Pharoah won’t believe me
 Pharoah’s army is too strong
 and, by the way, I’m not so eloquent, I cannot speak.

Don’t send me. Moses the prophet has a difficult time believing in the mission to free his people from slavery. At least, at first, he does.

Moses would probably question the message of the Psalm:

“Your word is a lamp for my steps and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105)

It is a gradual process for Moses to get on board.

[__05.] Fires require investigation.

However, in the case of this fire, Moses is the subject of the investigation. You and I are the subjects of the investigation during Lent.

Actually, the fire is not the subject of the investigation. Your and I are.

We are called into the desert these 40 days for investigation and examination too.

Not with a fear of what the examination will uncover or what we might be charged with but rather with what we might discover in ourselves.

[__06.] One of our spiritual practices is to sit before the Lord.

This is also the one-on-encounter that Moses has.

We can be in the Lord’s presence when we
sit before God’s presence in our Tabernacle of the Blessed Sacrament. Doing this, we imitate Moses before the Burning Bush and also Jesus who prays in Gethsemani. This is our personal encounter with Christ.

Praying and speaking with him, we also listen for God to speak to us to light a fire within us. [_end_]

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