Third Sunday Of Lent – Year C
Fr. Mark Gatto
March 24, 2019
In New Zealand, a white supremacist terrorist attacked two mosques killing about 50 Muslims. Like most terrorists, he probably thought that he was doing a good thing. That this use of force and violence was justified in his mind.
The thinking that justified this extreme use of force and violence is unfortunately often embraced by leaders in our countries, often embraced by people within families. The idea that force and violence are justified in certain circumstances. But, we need to be clear that this can never be seen as the will of God. Force and violence are not the way of our God.
God is a gardener. Well, Jesus uses a parable in which God is like a gardener. There is a fig tree that has not been producing figs. So, the owner wants to cut it out and not waste the soil on it. But, the gardener says to give it one more year and he will dig around it, and put manure on it, and give it another chance. When Jesus says God is like a gardener, what is he saying about God?
God is patient. God is merciful. God’s gentle mercy and incredible patience. We human beings are not so patient with one another, we are very quick to judge, to condemn, to punish, to want to get rid of those who fail or oppose us. But, God is patient and full of mercy. God offers chance upon chance, offers mercy upon mercy.
We also heard in our First Reading today, the encounter of Moses with the Holy One in the burn-ing bush. Moses removes the sandals from his feet out of reverence for the Holy Ground he was on in the presence of the Holy One. After Jesus, we recognize each human being is Holy Ground. The Holy One, God the Creator, is present in each human being.
Therefore, we are to encounter each human being as though we were on Holy Ground, in the presence of the Holy One. As Moses encountered God in that burning bush, we are to encounter God in each person we meet.
As Catholics, when we enter a church, we look for the Tabernacle, and we genuflect as a sign of reverence. Before the Tabernacle we are on Holy Ground, in the presence of the Holy One in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Imagine if we Catholics genuflected before each person we met. If like Moses we removed our shoes as a sign of being in the presence of the Holy One. It is not practical for us to genuflect before each person we meet as we do to the Tabernacle. But, imagine if in our heart we genuflected to reflect reverence in the presence of the Holy One. How would we treat one another?
God is like a gardener who gives us another chance, chance upon chance. Jesus reveals God as the God of mercy upon mercy. The use of force and violence does not reflect the way of God.
Like Moses removed his sandals on the Holy Ground in the presence of the Holy One in the bur-ing bush. Catholics genuflect on the Holy Ground in the real presence of the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle.
Today, we need to genuflect in the presence of each person we meet, for each person is Holy Ground where we can encounter the Holy One. It is not force and violence that is needed, it is an attitude of mercy upon mercy.