Gospel: Exodus 3:1-15 and Luke 13:1-9
God’s Holy intervention
The burning bush is a powerful image in the Christian imagination. In today’s reading, Moses encounters God, who instructs him to take off his sandals because he is standing on Holy Ground. But how often do we reflect on the reason for God’s holy intervention at this point in history? Yes, the image of the burning bush is an amazing one. But even more amazing is why God appears at this moment. “I have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry.” God hears the cry of the poor and afflicted and responds by calling Moses to cooperate with Him in their deliverance. Indeed, as today’s psalm says, “The Lord is kind and merciful.”
In the Gospel, Jesus reminds us not to interpret simple calamities as divine punishment. He refers to two different calamities of his time and makes it clear that those who perished did not do so because they were greater sinners than those listening to him. He urges his audience, and us, to be conscious of the need to repent of our own failures. We are like the fig trees of his parable. Although we have not yet been cut down, we are not yet bearing fruit.
Today is also the feast day of Saint Oscar Romero, who was martyred on this day in 1980. He was, at first, like the fig tree which has not yet begun to bear fruit. When he was appointed Archbishop of San Salvador, no one thought the church had appointed a champion of the poor. And yet, he encountered God in his own burning bush and heard the call that is always made on holy ground. In this case, it was this holy intervention: I have heard the cry of the poor. He began to bear fruit. His body perished because he responded to God’s call, yet his spirit lives on.
Development and Peace is proud to have been a part of the journey of this saint, supporting his work to end the oppression of his people. Inspired by his spirit, we continue today to respond to the cry of the poor throughout the world. For example, we respond today to the cry of the Rohingya people, victims of genocide in their own country, Burma. Over a million Rohingya have been forced to flee their homes for neighbouring Bangladesh. Like Moses and Romero we share the journey of the poor and oppressed towards liberation and freedom. We respond to their very real physical needs – food, shelter and security – while calling for their freedom and an end to their persecution.
Today is a chance to reflect on the ways in which God is calling you to hear the cry of the poor. Is it the cry of a marginalized person in your own family? Is it the look from the homeless panhandler who manages to lock eyes with you for a brief second on the street? Is it the story of the child migrant, separated from her family and far away from home? Let us pray that we not only hear that call, but that we recognize that the ground on which we hear it is holy.
If we recognize that the call is made on holy ground, we are more likely to freely respond. We are more likely to say, like Moses, “Here I am.” We are all fig trees which must bear fruit. We are spared in our comfort from the oppressive conditions of our sisters and brothers in the darkest corners of the world. This does not mean that God has abandoned them and not us. In fact, our own salvation may be in peril more than theirs. No, Jesus tells us that this is the moment of our mutual salvation – when we respond to the cry of the poor and come together to Share the Journey.
New for our 2019 Share Lent campaign, we are offering six weekly reflections that connect the proposed Gospel readings for the Sunday liturgy with our campaign theme. They will be published every Monday on our website or are accessible in the Resources section. Share the Journey with us!
Get your pencils ready!
For families with young children, we invite you to discover the weekly Gospel reflections of the 2019 Family Bulletin. Each reflection is accompanied by an illustration. Click on the image to download the illustration and reflection for this Sunday.