Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson
Biblical scholars are often unheralded people. They labor in dedicated anonymity in the background of the Church’s activities. Yet they frequently gift us with richer understanding of God’s word. The Exodus story is a sterling example. They tell us that it is the central event of the Old Testament, indeed presaging Our Lord as the new Moses leading us out of slavery to sin and freedom in a promised Paradise.
The particular incident of the encounter of Moses with God at the burning bush is well known. I must admit that I can’t help picturing the scene as Cecil B. DeMille gave it to us in his movie “The Ten Commandments” that I first sat enthralled by as a youngster. (In a later viewing I noticed that God sounded very much like Charlton Heston with a deeper voice and slower diction!)
The point here is that not only did Yahweh hear the cry of His enslaved people but also that Moses was to be His chosen vessel of leadership for them. Again we note a subtle reminder that each of us has a mission, one that involves walking away from sin if not temptation. Along with that is God’s admission that He does hear our prayers, even if we are impatient about when and how He responds.
In the Gospel selection we note how Jesus uses contemporary tragedies to illustrate that the victims of such are not greater sinners than the rest of us. He stresses the need for us to repent of our own sins as well as compassion for the victims of tragic events.
Philadelphia had its worse fire tragedy in a long time back in January that drew a lot of attention and sympathy, especially because several children were involved. But who would dare accuse those victims of worse sins than our own?
Finally, we hear the famous fig tree parable. Its frustrated owner wants the unproductive tree to be cut down. But his plant-loving gardener asks for a reprieve for the tree, and he promises to bring the tree back to productive life.
If we become spiritually like that tree, unproductive of the many graces we have received in life, it is more than a comfort to know that we have such a sympathetic Gardener of souls who notes our good will even when we fail. Lent has its reassuring aspects. If only we would get this and many other messages from reading and pondering the Bible that our gifted biblical scholars bring to light. It would brighten our days.
Mark Twain once said: “Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture which they cannot understand; but as for me, I have always noticed that the passages in Scripture which trouble me the most are those which I do understand.”
God love you and give you His peace.