Third Sunday of Lent C
March 3. 2013
Reading I: Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15
A single thread runs through today's readings. It is indicated
by the name of God as revealed to Moses: “I am who I am,” or,
as many contemporary exegetes interpret it, “He causes
to be what comes into existence.”
Our God is the God
of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not the God of the philosophers
(Pascal) – that
is to say, not an abstract, impersonal reality, but the transcendent
One who intervenes powerfully in human history.
God calls Moses
and sends him to lead his people out of Egypt through the wilderness
(second reading), refreshing them with water from the rock
and bringing them into the Promised Land.
Then finally he sends
his Son, offering his people one last chance to repent and
accept his salvation (gospel).
Once again the Exodus story functions in the liturgy as a type of the saving
act of God in Christ. God sees the affliction of his people. He “comes down,” that
is, intervenes in history out of his transcendence, to deliver them from the
slavery of sin and to bring them into the land “flowing with milk and honey,” the
kingdom of God.
Responsorial Psalm: 103: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11
In this psalm we
praise God for showing his ways to Moses, and his works to
the people of Israel, as these ways and works are spoken
of in the first reading.
A psalm sung by Israel about the
Exodus becomes a hymn of the Christian community celebrating
the death and resurrection of Christ.
Reading II: 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12
The situation confronting
Paul at Corinth is that the Christians there are supposing
that the sacraments automatically confer the fullness of salvation
here and now. Probably the Corinthians were under the influence
of early Gnostic enthusiasm.
Paul therefore has to stress the
“not yet” aspect of the sacraments. They anticipate
symbolically the fullness of salvation, but effectively they
initiate and foster a process that looks to its final completion
at the end.
To illustrate his point, Paul draws an analogy
with Israel in the wilderness and finds in the Exodus story
types of the two major Christian sacraments of baptism and
the Eucharist: the children of Israel were baptized when they
passed through the cloud and through the Red Sea, and they
were nourished with spiritual food and drink by the manna and
the water from the rock in the wilderness.
It is probable that Paul did not invent this typology but took it over from earliest
It may well have had its origin in Jewish speculation about the
messianic banquet and may have been taken up in pre-Pauline Christianity to interpret
the eschatological banquets of the early community, such as those alluded to
Certainly there is rabbinic influence present in the idea that
the Rock followed the Israelites, an inference from the fact that it is
mentioned twice in the Pentateuch (Exodus
17 and Numbers
20; a modern commentator
would regard these as doublets of the same tradition).
More extraordinary is
Paul's claim that “the Rock was Christ.” Probably the basis for this
is the equation of Christ with the divine “wisdom,” the personified
agent both of creation and of all God's acts in salvation history.
for God's going out of himself in self-communication and activity. For Paul,
as for the New Testament as a whole, God's going out of himself culminates in
his redemptive act in Jesus.
Gospel: Luke 13:1-9
Jesus here refers to two recent
disasters, otherwise unknown to historians. One was the outrage of a tyrant,
the other an accident involving construction workers in Siloam.
From both events
he draws a warning for Israel. Unless the nation repents, it too will perish.
For Jesus, repentance means accepting his message of God's kingdom.
of the fig tree reinforces the challenge to repent. This provides a link with
the second reading: “Let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest
Neither the old Israel nor the new dare presume upon a false sense
Reginald H. Fuller
Copyright © 1984
by The Order of St. Benedict, Inc., Collegeville,
Minnesota. All rights reserved. Used by
permission from The Liturgical Press,
Collegeville, Minnesota 56321
Preaching the Lectionary:
The Word of God for the Church Today
Reginald H. Fuller. The Liturgical Press.
1984 (Revised Edition), pp.410-411.
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