Third Sunday in Lent – Year C
March 20, 2022 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Exodus 3:1-8a;13-15 | Psalm 103:1-4;6-8;11
I Corinthians 10:1-6;10-12 | Luke 13:1-5

+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

 Our focus for this third Sunday in Lent is repentance.  Jesus tells us, “If you do not repent, you will perish as they did” referring to the Galileans who suffered under Pontius Pilate and the innocent ones who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them.  The fall of the tower of Siloam is not mentioned in any other historical record other than the Bible.  The Bible gives no more detail about the structure’s collapse, what the tower was for, or why it fell.  All we know is that eighteen innocent people died.

Sincere repentance is doing those things you promised God when you were baptized or if you were an infant at baptism when you were confirmed.  Baptized believers make a covenant with God to do the following:

–Come into the fold of God

–Be called His people

–Proclaim the Good News of God in word and deed

–Bear one another’s burdens

–Mourn with those who mourn

–Comfort those who need comfort

–Stand as a witness of God at all times and places

–Serve God

–Keep His commandments

–Strive for justice and peace on earth

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the common meaning of the word repentance refers to one’s regret of thought or action.    Spiritually, however, to repent is to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life. it means responding to God’s call through Jesus to repent or turn away from rebellion or any form of evil.  This repentance is known as metanoia and is an important step towards salvation which we will address later.

In the Old Testament, two Hebrew words are used for repentance:  “Nacham” which means to turn around or change the mind; and “Sub” which is used over 600 times in the Old Testament and means to turn, seek and restore.  In the New Testament, the Greek word “Metanoia”, which literally means “to change the mind” is the word used for repentance.

To the people who believe that the character of a person determines one’s fate, Jesus responds that “these people were no more guilty of sin than anyone else.”  Misfortune cannot be blamed on a moral state.

When I was seventeen years old and living in Beaumont, Texas due to my father’s position at Mobil Oil Corporation, I was a passenger in a car involved in a traffic accident that almost ended my life.  I recall how some people reacted after I recovered, believing that I must be a really bad person for God to have let something like that happen to me!

In 1981, Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote a book about this titled, “When Bad Things Happen To Good People”.  He dedicated the book to his son, Aaron, who died at the age of fourteen due to an incurable genetic disease.

When we hear from Moses in our first reading, he has grown up and is on his way to becoming prominent in Egypt.  As Moses is tending his sheep at the foot of Mount Sinai, he sees a burning bush and as he draws closer, he hears the voice of God calling him.  God commands him to remove his sandals because he is on holy ground, (Even today, Muslims remove their shoes before entering the mosque.)  God proceeds to enter into a covenant with Moses to rescue the Israelites from the Egyptians.  And if any of you remember the movie, “The Ten Commandments”  starring Charlton Heston as Moses, it tells the story of building the foundation of a new people:  ones free to choose their own destinies as children of God.  The movie is a little bit long, almost four hours, but it is one of the great stories in history.

Remember, if these people had not gone on that exodus, you would not be sitting here today!

We are warned about the consequences of disobeying God’s will by Paul in our second reading.  Some of the Israelites grew tired of eating the manna offered by God and wanted to eat meat.  God allowed them to do so, but they encountered a plaque.  So Paul reminds us that God has not promised to keep us from falling if we do not look out for ourselves.

Second Corinthians says, “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature:  old things are passed away; behold all things are made new.”

The Bible offers many examples of repentance for us:

–David’s repentance after his sin of pursuing Bathsheba and killing her husband, Uriah so he could marry her.  David’s metanoia was that he confessed his sin and received forgiveness from God.  He did not approach God arrogantly or demand a pardon.  Instead, he placed himself on the “abundant mercy” of God.

–the prodigal son’s repentance after he left his father and squandered his inheritance.  His metanoia was that he later returned and asked for forgiveness.

–Peter’s denial of Jesus was closed by a penetrating look from Jesus Himself.  Peter finally came to his senses and “went out and wept bitterly.”  Jesus was on His way to be crucified when Peter denied Him three times.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him.  Each time Peter responds by saying yes.  In his third response, Peter states, “Lord,, you know everything.  You know that I love you.”  So Peter’s metanoia was that he was remorseful when he came to his senses after having denied His Savior and he pledged his love and chose to follow Jesus.

–the story of Noah and the Ark:  God warned of a coming judgment and those who would repent of their sins were welcome aboard the ark before the flood came.  Only eight people were saved.  For 120 years at God’s command, Noah labored to build the ark.  The ark provided a means of escape for those who sought to serve God instead of falling into sin and death.  Everyone was invited to board the ark but only eight people experienced metanoia which saved their lives.

–Saul of Tarsus:  Saul was on his way to Damascus to capture Christians and take them to prison when he encountered Jesus.  Saul’s metanoia was that he had an epiphany after meeting Jesus and was redeemed by the love of Christ and later became known as the man we call the Apostle Paul. He was responsible for spreading the Word of Jesus throughout the world.

So, when Jesus says, “if you do not repent, you will perish!” He is only trying to help us have better lives here on earth and to guide us to salvation and eternal life in heaven.  Salvation means freedom from sin.  The apostles taught that those who experience salvation in their life on earth will continue to have a relationship with God forever and will inherit eternal life, peace, and happiness in heaven.

Jesus is with us during our Lenten journey and He wants to help us to better ourselves through repentance of sin.  With His compassion, mercy, and love, Jesus will heal us and restore us forever. Amen.