Readings and Reflection for Sunday March 20, Third Sunday of Lent


“I am ’has sent me to you.”
A reading from the Book of Exodus (Exodus 3:1-8a.13- 15)

In those days: Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian; and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here am I.” Then he said, “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Then the Lord said, “I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the sons 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 sons of Israel, ‘I am’ has sent me to you.”’ God also said to Moses, “Say this to the sons of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.”

The word of the Lord

RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm 103:1-2.3-4, 6-7, 8 and 11 (R. 8a)
R/. The Lord is compassionate and gracious.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all within me, his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and never forget all his benefits. R/.

It is the Lord who forgives all your sins,
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave,
who crowns you with mercy and compassion. R/.

R/. The Lord is compassionate and gracious.

The Lord does just deeds,
gives full justice to all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
and his deeds to the children of Israel. R/.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so strong his mercy for those who fear him. R/.

“These things that happened to the people with Moses in the desert were written down for our instruction”
A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 10: 1-6.10-12) 

I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same supernatural food and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless with most of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things are warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

The word of the Lord

Glory and praise to you, O Christ. Repent, says the Lord, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Glory and praise to you, O Christ

“Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (Luke 13:1-9)

There were some present at that very time who told Jesus of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Behold, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?’ “And he answered him, ‘Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.”’

The Gospel of the Lord.

“I have seen the miserable state of my people… and heard their appeal to be free.. I am well aware of their sufferings. I mean to deliver them.” These are words of hope for the people of Israel under bondage in Egypt. Moses is commissioned to reassure them of God’s nearness and saving power, God is not deaf or blind, unfeeling or indifferent to what is happening with us. His name is “I am who I am” – the one and only – who is there always for us and with us. Knowledge and experience of the abiding presence of God demand not complacency but radical transformation of life and attitude (exodus/metanoia), “Unless you repent you will all perish as they did” may be threatening, but it reminds us that God’s presence is grace – opportunity to bear fruit of repentance and be saved. If only we could cooperate with God’s grace by bearing good fruit!


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