Third Sunday of Lent – C




But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”



Come, all who are thirsty

says Jesus, our Lord,

come, all who are weak,

taste the living water

that I shall give.

Dip your hands in the stream,

refresh body and soul,

drink from it,

depend on it,

for this water

will never run dry.

Come, all who are thirsty

says Jesus, our Lord.



O God, author of every mercy and of all goodness,

who in fasting, prayer and almsgiving

have shown us a remedy for sin,

look graciously on this confession of our lowliness,

that we, who are bowed down by our conscience,

may always be lifted up by your mercy.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.



Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro,

the priest of Midian.

Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb,

the mountain of God.

There an angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in fire

flaming out of a bush.

As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush,

though on fire, was not consumed.

So Moses decided,

I must go over to look at this remarkable sight,

and see why the bush is not burned.”

When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely,

God called out to him from the bush, Moses! Moses!”

He answered, “Here I am.”

God said, “Come no nearer!

Remove the sandals from your feet,

for the place where you stand is holy ground.

I am the God of your fathers, “ he continued,

the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”

Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

But the LORD said,

I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt

and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers,

so I know well what they are suffering.

Therefore I have come down to rescue them

from the hands of the Egyptians

and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land,

a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Moses said to God, “But when I go to the Israelites

and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’

if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?”

God replied, “I am who am.”

Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites:

I AM sent me to you.”

God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites:

The LORD, the God of your fathers,

the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob,

has sent me to you.

This is my name forever;

thus am I to be remembered through all generations.”



CCC 205 God calls Moses from the midst of a bush that burns without being consumed: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”1 God is the God of the fathers, the One who had called and guided the patriarchs in their wanderings. He is the faithful and compassionate God who remembers them and his promises; he comes to free their descendants from slavery. He is the God who, from beyond space and time, can do this and wills to do it, the God who will put his almighty power to work for this plan.

I Am who I Am”

Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you’, and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’… this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.”2

CCC 207 By revealing his name God at the same time reveals his faithfulness which is from everlasting to everlasting, valid for the past (“I am the God of your father”), as for the future (“I will be with you”).3 God, who reveals his name as “I AM”, reveals himself as the God who is always there, present to his people in order to save them.

CCC 208 Faced with God’s fascinating and mysterious presence, man discovers his own insignificance. Before the burning bush, Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face in the presence of God’s holiness.4 Before the glory of the thrice-holy God, Isaiah cries out: “Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips.”5 Before the divine signs wrought by Jesus, Peter exclaims: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”6 But because God is holy, he can forgive the man who realizes that he is a sinner before him: “I will not execute my fierce anger. .. for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst.”7 The apostle John says likewise: “We shall. .. reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.”8

CCC 446 In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the ineffable Hebrew name YHWH, by which God revealed himself to Moses,9 is rendered as Kyrios, “Lord”. From then on, “Lord” becomes the more usual name by which to indicate the divinity of Israel’s God. The New Testament uses this full sense of the title “Lord” both for the Father and – what is new – for Jesus, who is thereby recognized as God Himself.10

CCC 1867 The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are “sins that cry to heaven”: the blood of Abel,11 the sin of the Sodomites,12 the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt,13 the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan,14 injustice to the wage earner.15

CCC 2575 Here again the initiative is God’s. From the midst of the burning bush he calls Moses.16 This event will remain one of the primordial images of prayer in the spiritual tradition of Jews and Christians alike. When “the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob” calls Moses to be his servant, it is because he is the living God who wants men to live. God reveals himself in order to save them, though he does not do this alone or despite them: he calls Moses to be his messenger, an associate in his compassion, his work of salvation. There is something of a divine plea in this mission, and only after long debate does Moses attune his own will to that of the Savior God. But in the dialogue in which God confides in him, Moses also learns how to pray: he balks, makes excuses, above all questions: and it is in response to his question that the Lord confides his ineffable name, which will be revealed through his mighty deeds.

CCC 2666 But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation: JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity The Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: “Jesus,” “YHWH saves.”17 The name “Jesus” contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray “Jesus” is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him.18

CCC 2777 In the Roman liturgy, the Eucharistic assembly is invited to pray to our heavenly Father with filial boldness; the Eastern liturgies develop and use similar expressions: “dare in all confidence,” “make us worthy of. .. ” From the burning bush Moses heard a voice saying to him, “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”19 Only Jesus could cross that threshold of the divine holiness, for “when he had made purification for sins,” he brought us into the Father’s presence: “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”20

Our awareness of our status as slaves would make us sink into the ground and our earthly condition would dissolve into dust, if the authority of our Father himself and the Spirit of his Son had not impelled us to this cry. .. ‘Abba, Father!’. .. When would a mortal dare call God ‘Father,’ if man’s innermost being were not animated by power from on high?21

CCC 2810 In the promise to Abraham and the oath that accompanied it,22 God commits himself but without disclosing his name. He begins to reveal it to Moses and makes it known clearly before the eyes of the whole people when he saves them from the Egyptians: “he has triumphed gloriously.”23 From the covenant of Sinai onwards, this people is “his own” and it is to be a “holy (or ”consecrated“: the same word is used for both in Hebrew) nation,”24 because the name of God dwells in it.

1 EX 3:6.

2 EX 3:13-15.

3 EX 3:6, 12.

4 Cf. EX 3:5-6.

5 Is 6:5.

6 Lk 5:8.

7 Hos 11:9.

8 I Jn 3:19-20.

9 Cf. Ex 3:14.

10 Cf. I Cor 2:8.

11 Cf. Gen 4:10.

12 Cf. Gen 18:20; 19:13.

13 Cf. Ex 3:7-10.

14 Cf. Ex 20:20-22.

15 Cf. Deut 24:14-15; Jas 5:4.

16 Ex 3:1-10.

17 Cf. Ex 3:14; 33: 19-23; Mt 1:21.

18 Rom 10:13; Acts 2:21; 3:15-16; Gal 2:20.

19 Ex 3:5.

20 Heb 1:3; 2:13.

21 St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermo 71, 3: PL 52, 401 CD; cf. Gal 4:6.

22 Cf. Heb 6:13.

23 Ex 15:1 cf. 3:14.

24 Cf. Ex 19:5-6.



In Lent we are preparing for the death and Resurrection of Christ. It is the central, the crowning act, of God’s love in the divine drama of our liberation from sin, and our admission to citizenship of our new exalted and everlasting homeland. The Exodus, the liberation of the Chosen People from the slavery of Egypt and the beginning of their journey into their promised land, Canaan, was a type or prophecy of our great liberation and exaltation to the status, not only of Chosen People, but of sons of God.

For this reason Christ chose the Jewish feast of Passover or Pasch–the beginning of the old Exodus, as the day on which he would begin our liberation. He was the real Lamb of God whose sacrifice would redeem us from the slavery of sin and death, and whose precious blood would mark us for eternity as the chosen sons of the Father.

It is to remind us of this that we are told today of this story of God’s mission to Moses. The liberation of the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt and their eventual establishment in the Promised Land of Canaan were outstanding proofs of God’s deep interest in those he loves. But they were only types and shadows of what he has done for us. It was not a mere man, like Moses, but his own Divine Son that he sent to liberate us. He came not to give us a few years of temporal freedom in a little corner of this planet, but to give us a new supernatural life in his own everlasting kingdom of unending freedom and happiness.

With infinitely more reason than the Psalmist who lived before Christ came, can we cry out: “Lord, what is man that thou shouldst be mindful of him?” What am I that God should care for me and go to such extremes in order to make me truly happy forever? From my heart I can say: ” Lord, I am not worthy.” But I also know that he who made all things, can make me worthy of the future he has so generously prepared for me, if only I cooperate, if only I do the little he asks of me.

There is no road-block on my journey to heaven. There is no hindrance on my way into the Promised Land, which I cannot remove, with the help of grace, which is there for the asking. Will I sit idly on the roadside bewailing my weaknesses, or will I roll up my sleeves and start casting aside the cardboard barricades set up by my own selfishness and spiritual laziness? Today is the best day to answer that question. There may not be another chance.



Ps 103: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11

The Lord is kind and merciful.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;

and all my being, bless his holy name.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

He pardons all your iniquities,

heals all your ills,

He redeems your life from destruction,

crowns you with kindness and compassion.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

The LORD secures justice

and the rights of all the oppressed.

He has made known his ways to Moses,

and his deeds to the children of Israel.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

Merciful and gracious is the LORD,

slow to anger and abounding in kindness.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,

so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.

The Lord is kind and merciful.



1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,

that our ancestors were all under the cloud

and all passed through the sea,

and all of them were baptized into Moses

in the cloud and in the sea.

All ate the same spiritual food,

and all drank the same spiritual drink,

for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them,

and the rock was the Christ.

Yet God was not pleased with most of them,

for they were struck down in the desert.

These things happened as examples for us,

so that we might not desire evil things, as they did.

Do not grumble as some of them did,

and suffered death by the destroyer.

These things happened to them as an example,

and they have been written down as a warning to us,

upon whom the end of the ages has come.

Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure

should take care not to fall.



CCC 117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God’s plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ’s victory and also of Christian Baptism.1

2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written “for our instruction”.2

3. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, “leading”). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.3

CCC 128 The Church, as early as apostolic times,4 and then constantly in her Tradition, has illuminated the unity of the divine plan in the two Testaments through typology, which discerns in God’s works of the Old Covenant prefigurations of what he accomplished in the fullness of time in the person of his incarnate Son.

CCC 670 Since the Ascension God’s plan has entered into its fulfillment. We are already at “the last hour”.5 “Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect.”6 Christ’s kingdom already manifests its presence through the miraculous signs that attend its proclamation by the Church.7

CCC 694 Water. The symbolism of water signifies the Holy Spirit’s action in Baptism, since after the invocation of the Holy Spirit it becomes the efficacious sacramental sign of new birth: just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. As “by one Spirit we were all baptized,” so we are also “made to drink of one Spirit.”8 Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified9 as its source and welling up in us to eternal life.10

CCC 1094 It is on this harmony of the two Testaments that the Paschal catechesis of the Lord is built,11 and then, that of the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church. This catechesis unveils what lay hidden under the letter of the Old Testament: the mystery of Christ. It is called “typological” because it reveals the newness of Christ on the basis of the “figures” (types) which announce him in the deeds, words, and symbols of the first covenant. By this re-reading in the Spirit of Truth, starting from Christ, the figures are unveiled.12 Thus the flood and Noah’s ark prefigured salvation by Baptism,13 as did the cloud and the crossing of the Red Sea. Water from the rock was the figure of the spiritual gifts of Christ, and manna in the desert prefigured the Eucharist, “the true bread from heaven.”14

CCC 2175 Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ’s Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man’s eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ:15

Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the sabbath, but the Lord’s Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death.16

1 Cf. I Cor 10:2.

2 I Cor 10:11; cf. Heb 3:1 -4:11.

3 Cf. Rev 21:1 – 22:5.

4 Cf. I Cor 10:6, 11; Heb 10:l; l Pt 3:21.

5 I Jn 2:18; cf. I Pt 4:7.

6 LG 48 # 3; cf. I Cor 10:11.

7 Cf. Mk 16:17-18, 20.

8 1 Cor 12:13.

9 Jn 19:34; 1 Jn 5:8.

10 Cf. Jn 4:10-14; 738; Ex 17:1-6; Isa 55:1; Zech 14:8; 1 Cor 10:4; Rev 21:6; 22:17.

11 Cf. DV 14-16; Lk 24:13-49.

12 Cf. 2 Cor 3:14-16.

13 Cf. 1 Pet 3:21.

14 Jn 6:32; cf. 1 Cor 10:1-6.

15 Cf. 1 Cor 10:11.

16 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Magn. 9, 1: SCh 10, 88.



This admonition of Paul, given to the converts in Corinth, but applicable to all of us, could not be more timely. During Lent we are, or should be, thinking of all God did for us, and of how mean is our response. We read of the wonderful things he did for the Israelites, getting them out of Egypt, feeding them in the desert and leading them towards their own national home. We see the return they made him: ingratitude, forgetfulness, betrayal by turning to false gods who did not or could not help them. We very naturally conclude that they deserved all the punishment he gave them.

But who are we to pass judgement on the Israelites? They did not know God as well as we do. They had witnessed God’s love, mercy, and kindness in their regard, but, compared to the divine love and mercy we have witnessed in the Incarnation, what God did for them was relatively little. Yet like the Israelites we lust too often after evil things, we let the pleasures and wealth of this world come between us and God. We do not perhaps set up a golden calf as our god, but how often does something more trifling, the silver dollar, become the center of our lives and of our devotion?

We, too, tempt Christ when we presume we shall get to heaven by means of a few mumbled prayers and a hasty Mass on Sunday, while the rest of our week is spent in the service of our pagan worldly idols. And how often do we murmur and complain against God when things do not go as we’d like them to go ? If our health is not always the best, if our work is not quite suitable, if our husbands or wives are not the true and best partners in life we expected them to be, if our children are disobedient and wayward, we murmur against God and blame him. Often, if not always, the fault lies with ourselves.

Today, I would ask each one of you to stop, look and listen, before you take your next step on your road of life. Stop and take an honest look at yourself and at your Christian attitude to life. Are you expecting heaven here below or are you one of those who wants to have all the goods and pleasures of life and heaven too? Christ won for us and promised to those who would follow him, a day of resurrection to an unending life of blessed happiness, but he told us very definitely and very clearly that the way to the resurrection is over the hill of Calvary.

Listen today to St. Paul’s admonition. We too, Christian though we be and far better educated in the things of God, can, like the Israelites, fail to reach the eternal homeland he has prepared for us, if we imitate the Israelites in their ingratitude and their forgetfulness of all that God did for them.



Gospel Lk 13:1-9

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans

whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.

Jesus said to them in reply,

Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way

they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?

By no means!

But I tell you, if you do not repent,

you will all perish as they did!

Or those eighteen people who were killed

when the tower at Siloam fell on them —

do you think they were more guilty

than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?

By no means!

But I tell you, if you do not repent,

you will all perish as they did!”

And he told them this parable:

There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,

and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,

he said to the gardener,

For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree

but have found none.

So cut it down.

Why should it exhaust the soil?’

He said to him in reply,

Sir, leave it for this year also,

and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;

it may bear fruit in the future.

If not you can cut it down.’”



Although the incidents collected together here by St. Luke are not logically or chronologically connected there is one theme and lesson running through them all. It is the need, namely, for repentance. Some sinners are punished in this life but an earthly punishment is no proof of greater sin, nor is it the real punishment that must be feared.

The parable of the useless fig tree, while it applies directly to the stubborn Jews of Christ’s time, has a lesson for all time and for all sinners. God’s mercy is infinite but man’s earthly life, during which he can obtain that mercy, is very finite. God’s mercy can forgive sins no matter how grievous, but it cannot forgive even less serious sins unless the sinner is sorry and asks for forgiveness. Christ, our true mediator with God, is continually interceding for us, but unless we do our part by repenting and changing our behavior, his intercession will be of no avail to us. No man is lost because God so wishes it, but no man is saved unless he himself wishes it and works for it.

Think on this parable of the fruitless fig tree today. If your conscience tells you that it applies to you, think also that Christ is interceding for you. He has obtained for you a moratorium, a period in which you can prove yourself fruitful. Use that gift of God with gratitude and you shall obtain the result that God wants, and that in all good sense, you should want as well.



The Attempt to Save Ourselves

It is clear that human beings alone cannot save themselves.  There innate error is precisely that they want to do this by themselves.  We can only be saved – that is, be free and true – when we stop wanting to be God and when we renounce the madness of autonomy and self-sufficiency.  We can only be saved – that is, become ourselves – when we engage in the proper relationship.  But our interpersonal relationships occur in the context of our utter creatureliness, and it is there that the damage lies.  Since the relationship with creation has been damaged, only the Creator himself can be our savior.  We can be saved only when he from whom we have cut ourselves off takes the initiative with us and stretches out his hand to us.  Only being loved is being saved, and only God’s love can purify damaged human love and radically reestablish the network of relationships that have suffered from alienation…  The One who is truly like God does not hold graspingly to his autonomy, to the limitlessness of his ability and his willing.  He does the contrary:  he becomes completely dependent, he becomes a slave.  Because he does not go the route of power but that of love, he can descend into the depths of Adam’s lie, into the depths of death, and there raise up truth and life.  Thus Christ is the new Adam, with whom humankind begins anew.  The Son, who is by nature relationship and relatedness, reestablishes relationships.  His arms, spread out on the cross, are an open invitation to relationship, which is continually offered to us.  The cross, the place of his obedience, is the true tree of life.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI


This is love.

Not that you spoke words of comfort,

walked with the unclean and unloved,

shared wisdom, bread and fish,

brought healing into lives

and challenged the status quo.

This is love.

That you spoke the word of God,

walked a painful road to the Cross,

shared living water, bread of life,

brought Salvation to the world

and died for the sake of all.

This is love.

It is a seed

sown in the ground,

which germinates,


and spreads its sweet perfume.

This is love.

About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A weekly study of the Roman Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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