Every one of us, at some point in life, would have heard the call to be more active in our faith life. It can come through a nudge on our conscience or a faint voice in our heart. It can be a call to join a parish ministry or the choir, or to participate in works of charity and mercy. Responding to one of these calls with “Here I am” will set our life onto a different path that eventually leads to peace and contentment. In time, we will realise that event to be our ‘burning bush’ moment.
We are all like Moses, not in the way he parted the Red Sea, but in the way he argued with God about his unsuitability. We often brush these calls away without giving it any serious consideration. In the many times I rejected my calls, I would always say, “I am not the churchy type”. Here I will borrow the common but true cliché, “God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called”. The called is qualified when our life bear fruit.
Today’s Gospel passage speaks of the parable of the fig tree. This parable tells us that we are accountable for the fruits we produce in life. And that God gives us time to produce. The Second Reading says, “The man who thinks he is safe must be careful that he does not fall”. Scripture never threatens, it only guides us towards making good decisions. The Gospel goes on to say, “No: unless you repent you will all perish as they did”. Repent is not about feeling guilty but to change our lifestyle.
Lifestyle changes come from what we do with our time, and the use our talents however insignificant we may argue them to be. The calls we hear ask that we bring the Gospel to others, less in words, more in action. We must make the Gospel a lived experience for others and for our self, to be conduits of love, bringing the presence of “I AM” into the here and now of life. Lifestyle changes is to dig around and manure ourselves, we the fig trees, not to be barren but to produce fruit.
We no longer live in the time of Moses. Salvation history has brought us through the Old into the New Testament. We live in the times after the Resurrection, the path to our salvation a lot more evident. Our faith, belief and church now have the benefits of being institutionalized. There is now organization and structure that allows for discipline in practice. Our burning bushes appear in this current context.
One of the more obvious lifestyle-change is to respond to the call to be more active in parish ministries. There is a lot to choose and do, spanning liturgical to pastoral needs. In parish ministry there is the benefit of organisation and discipline to initiate a more active faith life. We place ourselves among like-minded people and into communities where faith is a lived experience. Doing parish ministry help us to focus and prioritise our use of time and talent. In this soil, the fig tree will produce fruit.
Lent is a silent time to listen to our inner promptings. It is a time to realise the blessings of a faithful God who has refused to cut us down. Will we respond with “Here I am” to a call to join a ministry? It will change our barren life or make a fruitful life even more abundant. We are “always returning”. One day when we look back, we will realise this to be our Moses-moment, our own burning bush.
“Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand”
3rd Sunday of Lent