YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY OF LENT
HOMILY THEME: MOMENTS OF GRACE
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY: God is not indifferent to our various conditions of life, irrespective of what those conditions may be. He wishes us well and gives us all we need to live and lead a meaningful and fulfilled life. Even when opposing forces want to strangle us into oblivion or when we place ourselves into the status of fruitlessness by not putting to use the graces He bestows on us, in His mercy and benevolence, He gives us brighter opportunities that we may bear fruits that will last. May His grace triple within us in this Season of Lent; Amen.
The experience of the Israelites in the land of Egypt turned sour as their condition changed from being distinguished and cherished guests of the king and his people to being envied and maltreated and consequently subjected into slavery in the land that was their place of refuge and succour in their moment of lack. In this miserable condition, they invoked ceaselessly the God of their fathers remembering God’s promises to them and imploring His intervention in their story. This was the background behind the experience of Moses in the First Reading (Ex 3:1-8, 13-15), recapturing the call of Moses in the scene of the burning bush and his specific mission, under God’s power and anointing, to lead God’s people away from slavery into freedom in the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. The whole scene presents God’s attentiveness to all of His creatures and the fact that He is always present in our history even at those moments when things may seem very unfortunate and despairing; “I have seen the miserable state of my people in Egypt. I have heard their appeal to be free of their slave-drivers.”
The presence of God in our story is represented in the many new opportunities He gives us to rebuild ourselves and our relationship with Him and to make positive impacts by the fruits we bring forth and by so doing rewrite our story and history for good. This was true of the Israelites and this is also true of all of us! He places us on the pedestal that “morning by morning new mercies we see” manifesting the greatness of His faithfulness. This is seen in the parable of the fig tree in the Gospel Reading (Luke 13:1-9), of the fig tree that refused to bring forth fruits in due season. This parable is very rich in meaning most especially when read and understood from the point of view of the operation of the Triune God in us to lead us to fruitfulness. The Owner of the vineyard is God the Father from whom all good things come! The fruitlessness of the fig tree recaptures those moments of anguish and misery, which are comparable to the awful experience of slavery of the Israelites in the land of Egypt, and most often resulting from our carelessness and from leaving ourselves to be deceived by the evil one. The man who looked after the vineyard is Christ, the Good Shepherd, who intercedes for us before the Father, comparable also to the ministry of Moses the Servant of God. The extra year is a moment of grace which flow into us through the working of the Holy Spirit comparable also to God’s intervention in the lives of the Israelites. In all of this, we see the love, justice and mercy of God at work, for “in love He created man, in justice He condemned him but in mercy He redeemed him.” The truth is that all of us receive this great gift everyday and especially in this Season of Lent; a renewed opportunity to be liberated from slavery into the freedom of the children of God and to escape from the state of fruitlessness to the joy fruitfulness. As we read these collections of God’s dealing with humanity, we are called to avoid the carelessness and mistakes of our ancestors. Saint Paul reminds us that “these things all happened as warnings for us, not to have the wicked lusts for forbidden things that they had” (I Cor 10:1-6, 10-12). To behave like them is to waste the opportunities God gives us to be better and nothing could be most unjust to God than that.
God of our fathers and God of mercy, grant us the grace never to misuse, overlook or underestimate the new opportunities you daily bestow on us, and by so doing bear fruits that will last; Amen. Happy Sunday;
Fr Cyril CCE