C Cycle – 3rd Sunday of Lent 22
Ex. 3:1-8a, 13-15
God created us in his own image and gave us free, the ability to choose life or death, good or evil, serve self or serve God. Every other living mammal is guided by instinct. With them there is no right or wrong, there is only instinct compelling them to sleep, mate, feed and migrate. Darwin observed all of nature and his observations gave us the theory of “Survival of the Fittest.” But us, who were made in the image and likeness of God have other things motivating us. We have compassion, empathy, mercy, and simple things like curiosity guiding us in our daily lives. Yes, there are evil men and women who show us how far we can drift away from the God given command of loving your neighbor. While at the same time there are those who live their faith in ways that inspire us. What makes the difference between them and those who sacrifice everything, including their lives to help others. Could it be as simple as faith in God which guides their everyday existence?
How does one get that kind of faith and a willingness to give to others? How can we not only hear God’s voice but respond as he speaks to our hearts? As in all things the scriptures give us the answers to those questions but to seek those answers, we must believe God has a plan for each of us. There is a purpose for our being created and God desires us to embrace it. It seems to me we spend a lot of time learning how to be Christians by adherence to the norms of practicing our faith instead of how to live as a Christian. I do not mean serving the poor by donation of clothes or by preparing meals. No, I am talking about responding to a deeper call of giving our hearts to God and allowing Him to open our eyes, our minds, and our hearts to understand how we are gifted and respond to his plan for us.
Today in our church we have at one mass the readings from the A cycle and the rest of the masses are from the C cycle. Both of those readings are challenging us to examine how God is trying to get our attention and live our lives differently. The gospel of the A cycle has Christ encountering the woman at the well. While the C cycle first reading has God encountering Moses at the burning bush. In both those encounters we have God going out of his way to engage them in a conversation. When was the last time you had a conversation with God? I do not mean when you were listening to a meditation reflection given by someone else. No, I mean a conversation with God where you listen, and he speaks to your heart with such a presence you know you must respond.
That moment is a moment of revelation, conversion, an ah ha moment when things become clearer, and you know God is challenging you to change. God is constantly giving us those opportunities. Constantly using every means possible to grab our attention through the words of others, through the words in a movie, a song and yes through the scriptures. God uses nature, the innocence of a child, the beauty of butterflies, or sunrises to stop us and speak to our hearts. God uses circumstantial signs and occurrences to give us pause and ponder what they might mean. Jesus at the well tells the woman he has what she needs and all she must do is ask for it.
To grab Moose’s attention, God sets a bush on fire and that awakened in Moses a desire to understand. My brothers and sisters we need to have more curiosity about the God who desires us to give us freedom from sin, joy instead of pain and wholeness instead of brokenness. Are we seeking God in the safety of conformity, holding to what we are familiar with and only doing with what we are comfortable doing? Have you not noticed in the scriptures how our God is a God of surprises? A God who challenges the boundaries of our comfortable faith as he attempts to have us ask, “who are you” and what do you want me to do.”
If we remain in a comfortable faith, we will never ask that question because we do not want to be confronted with the challenge to cast our nets into the deep or walk on water or have our sins revealed. We are like the Pharisees who define their holiness by doing what is required but God desires us to respond to what we were created to become. Moses had no clue what he was going to encounter if he obeyed the voice of God. The woman at the well had no clue as to what would happen to her if she opened herself to receive what Jesus offered her. Yet, they both responded, and we know how their lives changed. We too are being invited to respond and to be changed. The real issue for us is are we willing to accept the invitation to get out of our comfort zones to follow him?
It is not too late to respond. After three years the disciple’s sill did not understand who he was and why he came. Not until Pentecost when their eyes were opened as the Holy Spirit spoke to their hearts. We need to have our Pentecost moment, our burning bush moment, our encounter at the well moment. It is never too late to begin a journey that changes everything about how we live our faith.