Third Sunday of LentReflection
Ah, curiosity! That pathway to insight, that Pandora's box of surprise, wonder...and sometimes trouble. In the familiar account of Moses and the burning bush, we find a simple story of curiosity, action, and discovery. Moses sees a bush that is on fire but not burning up. “I must go over to look at this remarkable sight,” he says, apparently to no one but himself. And it turns out that acting on his curiosity leads him to the God of Israel—and changes his life and the lives of his people forever. How wonderful that Moses took the time to follow up on his curiosity—to scratch the itching of an inquisitive mind! If only we all lived so attuned to the extraordinary. Instead, for too many of us, life is a blur of deadlines, work, and social media. We are rarely ever on the lookout for wonder and amazement. Thank God Moses didn’t have an iPhone! I’m sure he would have walked right past the flaming bush while scrolling through his messages. It is interesting, and maybe a little scary, the way this hide-and-seek God prefers to wait for us, camouflaged in a thing of strange beauty.
Jesus seems similarly committed to speaking only to the curious. He doesn’t hammer his audience over the head with commandments. He prefers to speak in parables—stories from everyday life that confront only the curious listeners “with ears to hear.” I confess, I’m still chewing on the parable in today’s Gospel—I haven’t digested it yet. Is Jesus’ point that the fig tree is spared because the gardener believes in second chances? Perhaps he is the gardener of second chances—the one who is “kind and merciful” as the psalmist suggests? He stalls the owner of the garden, asking for a little more time, a little more water, and a little more fertilizer. Or perhaps he is the tree, asking His listeners for a second hearing. It’s hard to know for sure. Jesus, the storyteller, invites us with this curious parable to come over and investigate. Have a look around.
God of anomalies, Author of wonder and amazement, stir up our hearts and give us curious, restless, and inquisitive minds. Amen.
Robert Brenneman, Associate Professor of Sociology
First Reading: Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15
Psalm 103:1-4, 6-8, 11
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12
Gospel: Luke 13:1-9
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website