Wednesday, March 31, 2010

holy week continues

As we enter into Holy week and prepare for Holy Thursday and Good Friday and Easter Vigil, here are few words from the letter of Hebrews to move us along this journey...

"Do not refuse to hear him who speaks.

For if the Israelites did not escape punishment when they refused to listen as God spoke to them on earth, how much greater punishment will be ours if we turn away from him who speaks from heaven!

His voice then shook the earth, but now he promised, "I will once more shake not only earth but heaven!" And that "once more" shows that shaken, created things will pass away, so that only what is unshaken may remain.

Wherefore we who are receiving the unshakable kingdom should hold fast to God's grace, through which we may offer worship acceptable to him in reverence and awe. For our God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:25-29

"Once again Jesus cried out in a loud voice,and then gave up his spirit. Suddenly the curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, boulders split, tombs opened...Centurian and his men were keeping watch over Jesus were terror stricken at seeing the earthquake and all that was happening, and said, "clearly this was the Son of God." Matthew 27:50-54

May you be shaken this week and come to know the fire that seeks to consume and recreate you anew.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

palm Sunday

Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22 My God, My God, why have you abandoned me? Philippians 2:6-11; Luke 22:14-23:56

Thus we begin Holy Week. This week is the most essential week to the life of a Catholic, a Christian, even for the World. Redemption comes for all of creation.

As we ponder the gospel today, I couldn't help but gravitate to the words of Isaiah, "You have given me a well trained tongue that I might speak to the weary a word that will rouse them."

..."to speak...a rouse..."

I remember some years back when a cell phone company had an advertisement in which people would walk around with a phone attached to their ear trying to get reception with the constant issuing from their lips, "can you hear me now."

In the passion of Jesus we experience and proclaim on this Palm Sunday, God is saying, "Can you hear me now."

The word is spoken that is sent forth to rouse us from our slumber.

In the silence of Jesus as he sweats drops of blood falling to the ground in the garden, as he embraces the kiss of his betrayer, as he receives the condemnation and hears the words, "crucify", as he embraces the verdict and walks to calvary, as he climbs the cross and the nails pierce his flesh, as he breathes his last and death falls upon the world, as the burial clothe is wrapped around his still warm but lifeless body, he speaks a word that is meant to rouse us from our slumber...

It is time to wake...

In the words of Jesus to his apostles, "get up and pray..."

May we enter fully into this week and not let the word go by unheard, unheeded.

Can you hear him now.

Receive the word and be awaken to new life, new hope, new love.

The word is sent forth breathing love for those who have ears to hear.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Jeremiah 20:10-13; Jn 10:31-42

"The jews picked up stones to throw at Jesus..."

"But the Lord is with me, a mighty champion..."

Growing up, we would often watch Western movies. My dad was and is a big fan of the wild west and the gunslinger movies. Recalling the movies there is one detail that I remember.

In most of the movies, there was always a lot of violence and aggression and fighting. Bullets were always flying around. Someone was going to get it and it was just a matter of time.

The Good guy seldom drew his gun first. He always waited to be called out by the guy in black. The guy in black always set the rules of the game. He always drew first. It was the action of the guy in black that allowed the man in white to be justified in pulling his gun and shooting the bad guy.

The good guy was always justified.

The gospel today begins with violence and a display of aggression. The jews have had enough of Jesus. He has been frustrating to deal with and they have been waiting for this moment. They finally have a reason to act on their anger, their frustration, their fear.

They have been holding back because they really did not have anything solid, just speculative thinking. But now they had Jesus, it was time for him to pay. It was high noon and they were justified.

The jews think they are the ones wearing the white hat. They think they are the good guys.

But isn't this the case most of the time in our life. We always think we are in the right. We always think we are justified. We always think that we are the ones wearing the white hat.

We seem to always make the other guy a bad guy. Are we truly justified?

The jews thought they were, but were they? How often have we acted merely on what we have thought without checking it with others?

We must remember that life isn't like the movies. There are not two kinds of people: good guys and bad guys. In fact there is only one kind: human in need of redemption.

Jesus is willing to take on the accusation of the Jews with out retaliation. He refuses to draw first, neither does he draw second. But yet by his act of love on the cross, in our faith in him, we are all justified.

We are all the same whether we like it or need of need of giving ourselves fully, giving ourselves outright.

Today is the birthday of Robert Frost.

Here is a snippet of a poem he wrote called "Gift Outright"

"Something we are withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living
And forth with found salvation in surrender
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright"

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Isaiah 7:10-14; Hebrews 10:4-10; Lk 1:26-38

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation. This is the feast that inaugurates Jesus into history.

The angel Gabriel comes to Mary and imparts the invitation for her to "rejoice."

"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you."

The greek word for "Hail" is "rejoice" to leap for joy.

Interesting note: The last time the angel Gabriel appears in the OT is to the prophet Daniel, Chapter 9.

Daniel was seeking to understand the scriptures and seeking to understand when fulfillment of time would come. He beseeches God for guidance and for understanding.

The angel Gabriel is sent to help him understand.

Daniel 9:21-25 "I was still occupied with this prayer when Gabriel, the one whom I had seen before in a vision, came to me in rapid flight at the time of evening sacrifice. He instructed me in these words, 'Daniel, I have now come to give you understanding. When you began your petition, an answer was given which I have come to announce, because you are beloved. Therefore, mark the answer and understand the vision:

Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and for your holy city. Then transgression will stop and sin will end, guilt will be expiated, everlasting justice will be introduced, vision and prophecy ratified, and a most holy will be anointed..."

The appearance of Gabriel to Mary, marks the fulfillment of the prophecy, the coming of the end of guilt and promise of the anointed one is to be realized.

Gabriel comes to announce again that the fullness of time has come...rejoice!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

set free

Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; Glory and praise for ever; Jn 8:31-42

"...and you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free."

What will the truth set you free from?

In today's first reading we encounter the three Jewish youths, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, who refuse to bow down and worship the idol.

They are being threatened by a white-hot furnace of fire and destruction if they do not comply with the request of King Nebuchadnezzar.

The circumstances do not look good, are not in their favor and the question is what would we do in a similar situation?

Would we sell out in order to save our skin, pretending everything was going to be fine as along as we just go along and just get by?

Or would we stand our ground and be thrown into the fire knowing full well that our life might be ended but at least we were faithful and honored God by the choice we make?

What would you do?

This reading sounds a lot like the "worse case scenario" trivia game. The game is ordered around different scenarios in life. There are different questions and the teams have to guess the right answer, the answer that will keep them alive given the particular situation.

A question might be: what do you do if you are being chased by a black bear?
a) play dead b) climb a tree c)turn and fight

Your group has to pick the answer that is correct and get points and move on.

The game is set up on the hypothesis that the circumstances of each situation determines your course of action.

Life's action is determined by the circumstances you are in!

The three young men in today's first reading free us from that reality. They show us that when it comes to faith, our faith life is never determined by the circumstances we are in.

The truth of faith sets us free from slavery to circumstances.

The circumstances should never dictate our faithfulness, but rather our faithfulness leads us through all circumstances.

The outcome will always be the same regardless of the circumstance: "There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If our God whom we serve can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up."

The truth will set us free from our faith being dictated by the circumstances that surround us.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Numbers 21:4-9; John 8:21-30

Today we encounter the Israelites complaining, belly-aching about their situation.

They are complaining directly against God for the gift of food he had given them to nourish them. They didn't like it they wanted something better.

They focused on what was wrong rather then recognizing what was right-they were free, slaves no longer; they had witness wonderful sights and victory at the hand of God.

But, yet they lingered in the belly-ache.

How often are we this way? We fail to recognize what is right and focus o what is wrong and lose sight of the gift right before our nose.

We can complain about the rosebush having thorns or we can praise God for the thorn bush that has beautiful roses.

Gratitude brings us strength; a heart fill with gratitude is a heart that will always be faithful. If we lose sight of gratitude, we lose sight of grace.

Monday, March 22, 2010

atrophy of Conscience

Daniel 3;psalm 23 Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for yo are at my side; Jn 8:12-20

Today we read from the book of Daniel; we read the story of susanna.
The story of Susanna is about many things: purity, false accusations, falsified conscience, lust and perversion, innocence suffering, prayers and prayers answered.

It is a beautiful story that relates to life quite easily.

Susanna is describes as a beautiful and God-fearing woman.

The judges are described as wicked.

Already from the beginning the stage is set for drama to unfold when the beauty of Susanna encounters the wickedness of the judges.

"When the old men saw her enter every day, they began to lust for her. They suppressed their consciences; they would not allow their eyes to look to heaven, and did not keep in mind just judgments."

The smallest thought of lust gone unchecked dismantles the will of the two old men.

Such a little thing, such a big problem.

St. Thomas tells us the smallest error in the beginning leads to the greatest of mistakes in the end.

The story from the beginning reminds us that the conscience of each individual is organic not an oracle. It can be falsified, suppressed.

The conscience needs to be trained and formed and exercised properly. Without proper exercise the conscience like muscles can go into atrophy and lose its sharpness and ability to read reality correctly.

The conscience can be stunned, stunted, stamped out and moved in error.

We must train our conscience daily.

Notice at the beginning of the story, it is mentioned how Susanna was trained according to the law of Moses. Her conscience was pristine and well oiled.

Picking the right time, the old men spring their trap. They try to coerce young Susanna into sexual perversion, but the beauty of her conscience not her physical beauty gets the upper hand.

She refuses to be led into sin, "it is better to fall into your power without guilt then to sin before the Lord."

Susanna refused to suppress her conscience. She was willing to die rather than betray the love of God.

In the end, Righteousness is vindicated. Susanna's prayers are heard because of her loyalty to God. Wickedness is destroyed.

Daniel intervened. Daniel refused to be a spectator, a mere observer of events. He was willing to put is life and reputation on the line in order to take a stand for innocence and justice and truth.

Daniel's role is our role. The Spirit of God is already in us. God has already moved us to act for justice. It is time for us to follow where the Spirit leads.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Trust what the other sees

Year A

It is finally here. It is what I have been waiting for all year. That is right, NCAA Basketball tournament. I love basketball, especially college basketball, especially the NCAA tournament.

It is the time of year where upsets are always in the making and the underdog can come out on top. The tournament is a new season, where each game is your last game and if you hold back you might just be left out.

It is fantastic.

One thing about basketball that is a must. To truly enjoy the game, you don't have to know all the rules or even the lingo. You don't have to know about traveling or double dribbling or carrying. The one thing you have to do if you are truly going to enjoy the game, you have to trust what the referee sees.

Bad calls happen. Missed calls occur. No calls remain uncalled. But unless you trust the eyes of the other the game of basketball loses its beauty. As a fan, trusting the eyes of the other, the ref, is essential.

It is easy to get caught up in bad calls, missed calls, and no calls but to do so means we run the risk of the missing the game for the sake of our limited vision.

Such is basketball such is life.

In Ezekiel, The Prophet is trying to get the people to trust the vision of God, to trust what the other sees rather than trusting their our own limited view of things.

The people have grown discouraged. They can't see beyond their own noses.

In verse 37:11 the people proclaim, "Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, we are cut off."

Ezekiel simply invites them not to get caught up in bad calls, missed calls, or no calls but rather to trust in the one who sees beyond, whose vision is wider than our own. Our vision is always limited, God's vision reaches into the future and sees what will be.

His vision is without error. As limited as our view is just as unlimited is His.

"I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who believes in me will never die."

Trust the vision of the one who is light itself. In him there is no darkness.

Trust in the one who says, "Lazarus come out!" Though we did not see that coming, Jesus always knows what is in store.

It is not polite to stare

Isaiah 43:16-21; Ps 126 The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy; Phil 3:8-14; Jn 8:1-11

Growing up and coming from a large family, often times meant that we drew a lot of attention from other folks.

People would stare at us in large part because we were a large family: 10 children was not a common thing in the 70's and 80's.

Often times these stares would come when we were at the grocery store. Mom would pick us up after school and we would head straight to the store because we were always out of something at the house.

Once in the store, Mom would lead the pack with her basket and the 10 of us hung on her hip, going where ever she went.

It always happened that someone would walk by and stare at us. My brothers and I would often stare back. Our mother when she caught us staring would always say, "it is not polite to stare."

As kids, we never understood. We thought it was just another thing that adults just made up.

A few months back I was driving down the main drag here in victoria and I came upon a red light. Stopped at the red light, I was distracted by my cell phone. Someone had sent me a text message. So I decided to check it while the light was red. Well, apparently, I was still checking it when the light turned green.

The gentleman behind me did not take it well that I was delayed in moving. He blared his horn and said a few words that quickly got my attention. So I waved, acknowledging my sin and move forward. Well, this gentleman did not think he expressed his frustration sufficiently enough.

He zoomed around me in his car and as I glanced over he stared me down all the while moving his lips. As he stared me down, I heard my mother's voice, "it is not polite to stare."

I understood what she meant.

As this gentleman was staring me down, I felt a bit uncomfortable. When you stare at someone, you hold them bound and make them a prisoner of your own judgments. Staring at someone suffocates them. It takes away their freedom and it eliminates the possibility of change.

It is not polite to stare!

If you go to the gospel today. The scribes and pharisees catch a woman in adultery. This is never a good place to be.

Not only do they catch her but they bring her out in front of everyone and "made her stand in the middle."

This woman, humiliated, embarrassed, scared for her life is surround on all sides by a pack wolves waiting to pounce. They stare her down; they suffocate her with their glare; they hold her bound in her sins; they make her prisoner of misery.

If you notice in the gospel, Jesus never participates. He refuses to stare. In fact, when they bring the woman out, Jesus stoops to the ground.

Jesus doesn't look at her until everyone has left and they were all alone.

Jesus knew it was not polite to stare. He understood that staring only suffocates. He refused to define this woman by her sins; he refused to hold her bound in misery.

Rather, when he looks upon her for the first time, he offers her a simple gaze of mercy, "neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more."

Mercy leads her from misery and brings her where God wants her to be, to that place where something new is happening as Isaiah proclaims in the first reading, "see, I am doing something new."

Condemnation gives way to forgiveness. Mercy overcomes misery.

Notice what Jesus doesn't say. He doesn't tell the women, "go and do whatever you want." He doesn't say, "everything will be alright." He tells her, "Go and sin no more."

Mercy given is not license. Mercy makes demands. Mercy, if it is true mercy, empowers us to change and to change often. It frees us from sin and empowers us to live again anew.

Jesus refuses to define us by our sins because he knows we are so much more. Yet, he also demands that we do not delay. He demands we change today and live anew and never receive mercy in vain.

It is not polite to stare, this is true. Mercy overcomes misery and condemnation gives way to forgiveness and the gaze of mercy sets us free and empowers us to be who God created us to be.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Hosea 14:2-10; Psalm 81 I am the Lord your God hear my voice; Mark 12:28-34

When I was in college I remember picking up a book by Jack Kerouac called On the Road and in it he describes his journey across the U.S. As I was reading the gospel today I couldn't help but be drawn to a few words he uses in the book:

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a common place thing, but burn, burn, burn like a yellow roman candle exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue center light pop and everybody goes 'AWWW."

It made me think of Jesus' words about what it means to "love the Lord your God with all you heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength...Love your neighbor as yourself."

Then we truly are not far from the kingdom of God.

And people will see us and go "AWWW" for we are mad to live for God alone.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Jeremiah 7:23-28; Psalm 95 If today you here his voice harden not your hearts; Luke 11:14-23

"Thus says the Lord, This is what I commanded my people: Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Walk in all the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper."

The word spoken to Jeremiah revealed to the people. It seems pretty easy. Listen and walk, hear and follow then true prosperity will be found; true peace will reign in the human heart.

"I have sent you untiringly all my servants and prophets."

People can and are exhausting to deal with. They can drain your energy and zap your strength and leave you frustrated.

But yet we here Jeremiah describe God's devotion to man as untiringly. God is relentless.

Think about God sending without rest, without ceasing, his servants to get the people's attention. Untiringly signifies day and night without pause or hesitation God stretches out to his people.

He never gets fatigued with us; he never gets run down; he never gets exhausted; he is forever stretching forth.

Is this not the face of the crucified in our midst, untiringly stretching forth after us.
The perfect image of God's devotion to the human heart is seen in the face of Christ.

This is what lent is about; it is about deepening our understanding of God's devotion to each of us, that untiring devotion to the human heart. Only when we can penetrate this reality can we truly begin to be devout ourselves.

Our devotion stems from God's devotion to us.

May we take time today to listen for God's word, listen to God's Word. Set aside a few minutes to read the Sacred Scripture and study the Word diligently even untiringly; do what God does.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Dt 4:1, 5-9; Psalm 147 Praise the Lord, Jerusalem; Matthew 5:17-19

The words of Moses to the people as they are about to enter into the promise land, "Observe them carefully (statues and decrees of the Lord), for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations..."

Thus you will give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence.

Pope Benedict states, "possibility of conversion entails that we learn to read the events of life in the light of faith animated by the Holy Fear of God."

Evidence of wisdom and intelligence is brought to light by a life of faith in a world that seems faithless.

This past week I spent a few days in Rome on a little excursion, trip.
One of those days I had the good fortune, blessing, to be at the catacombs of St. Callixstus.

It is a 90 acre cemetery that dates back to the 2nd century. The oldest tomb dates 140 AD and the most recent to 350 AD. The cemetery contained close to a half a million graves of Christians.

As you walk around the catacombs there are symbols of faith every where but one that stood out was the notation of MR, which stood for Martyr, someone who died for the faith, someone who was faithful until the end, someone who gave evidence of his wisdom and intelligence.

Here was someone who learned to read the events of life in the light of faith.

The silent witness of the men and women who gave their life in the early church was overpowering. The uproar of silence spoke volumes of faith, gave evidence of wisdom and intelligence, lived out the words of Moses to the people before they entered into the promise land.

"...what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the LORD, Our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?"

In fact, the christians called the place where they laid the slain bodies of their brothers and sisters not the necropolis as the greek used, the place of the dead, but rather they called it cemetery, which was a dormitory or a place of rest, until awaken in glory.

Death was an entrance into light, hope was embraced even in giving ones life.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

dare cuique suum

Daniel 3:25,34-43; Psalm 25 Remember your mercies, Lord; Matthew 18:21-35

"Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed and went to tell the master and reported the whole affair."

The servants in the gospel recognize an injustice and they refuse to be silent. They refuse to turn their eyes and look away. They refuse to remain inactive. They are silent no more.

The servants are models of good behavior.

How often in our society, in our life do we witness silence? How often do we simply reman spectators or on lookers refusing to get involved, refusing to risk in order to fight injustice?

How often has injustice continued while we turn and walk the other way because it doesn't affect us or it isn't our business?

How often do we hide behind the notion that we should just mind our own business or who are we to judge others?

The servants did neither. They assessed the situation, they judged the behavior to be unjust and they sought to remedy the reality not for their sake but for the sake of a fellow servant and for the sake of the world around them. They knew that one act of in justice would have ripple affects reaching into lives of many.

They reached out on the behalf of the one who had no voice or say in the matter.

They took a stand so that justice would become a reality and charity and truth might prevail.

What do we do? What will we do?

Silence is golden but dutiful action is required when injustice begins to yell in our life and in our society.

Excerpt on justice by Pope Benedict's Lenten Message:
"Thanks to Christ's action, we may enter into the "greatest" justice, which is that of love, the justice that recognizes itself in every case more a debtor than a creditor, because it has received more than could ever have been expected. Strengthened by this very experience, the christian is moved to contribute to creating just societies, where all receive what is necessary to live according to the dignity proper the human person and where justice is enlivened by love."

Monday, March 8, 2010


2 Kings 5:1-15; Psalm 42/43 Athirst is my soul for the living God, When shall I go and behold the face of God; Luke 4:24-30

"But his servant came up and reasoned with him, "My father," they said, "if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? All the more now, since he said to you, 'wash and be clean' should you do as he said"

Interesting to note that Naaman wanted to be healed, desired to be whole but wanted it on his terms.

He rejected what was placed right before him because it wasn't fantastic enough; he rejected it because it was ordinary, it was ho-hum, boring and routine.

What a commentary on today's generation!

How often is the Eucharist rejected because it is ho-hum, boring and routine. It isn't fantastic enough; it isn't entertaining. It is not what we expect or want. It is not according to our terms.

Yet it remains to be what God gives: his life for the life of the world.

The ordinary non fantastic, quiet routine, the ho-hum of life is where God comes to meet us. He waits for us there, patiently begging that we put down our guard and trust what he says.

"if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? All the more now, since he said to you 'wash and be clean,' should you do as he said."

Think about all the things God ask us to do to grow in holiness. Think about all the routine and ordinary means laid before us. These are the vehicles of sanctification, right before us each and very day, as simple as bathing in a river and being clean.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I am who am

Thinking about God, it is easy to surmise that the concept of God is merely that a concept or idea. The notion of God is man made, a trumped up farce, a construct of man's creative genius. Thus, God is, simply put, an imaginary friend that fills the void and thus creates meaning and purpose in life.

The notion of God simply helps us get on with life; it is a construct that directs and controls our behavior. The hardness of life is soften by the blow of the idea of God.

Many modern thinkers, so called intellectuals, choose this argument for the existence or nonexistence of God.

But, when you look at the revelation of God's name in Exodus something quite unique is present.

God reveals his name to Moses, "I am who am." Here in lies something new and not created. The revelation of God's name shows forth that the existence of God is not primarily about us or what we think about God or of God.

Faith in the final analysis begins and ends not with what we think about God but rather that God reveals himself as one who thinks about us.

God, the great I am, sees the affliction, hears the cries, knows the suffering. He is intimately involved in our life, our history, our world. He thinks about us.

This is where faith begins.

I can know God because I am known; I can love because I am already loved.

God sees and thus sees us through.

Thus the presence of God who thinks of us does not demand a leap of faith into the darkness of obscurity for the darkness already contains God who is ever present, who is always there no matter where there might be.

I am who am accompanies us and thus the darkness is not really dark at all and the leap of faith is really an acceptance of his sweet and gentle embrace.

exhaust the soil

Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15; Psalm 103 The Lord is kind and merciful; 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12; Luke 13:1-9

As you read the readings to day and contemplate the Lenten journey, the one thing that ties them together is the significance of trees.

We have the burning bush in the first reading, a bush that is on fire yet not consumed. A tree that is burning but not burnt.

In the gospel we have the tree that is full of foliage, life, and health yet remains fruitless and barren. A tree that finds its commentary in the second reading of St. Paul where we are warned that we should be careful least we fall. A tree that is living but smells of death; healthy but barren and sickly.

As we journey in lent, before our eyes and in our heart, we picture the tree of the cross that carries upon it death and destruction yet it bears much fruit as it becomes the tree of life for all. A tree that looks like death but gives life.

A tale of three trees that invade our life, our faith, and direct us on the path of enrichment and growth and fruitfulness.

The burning bush stands for us a true sign of grace in our life. God's presence when it comes to us does not seek to annihilate or destroy. God's presence comes to illuminate and make radiant. What happens to the tree is what is meant to happen to us. We should not be afraid of encountering God; we should not be afraid to surrender to God; we should run to him with open arms and embrace the reality that we too shall not be destroyed nor consumed but shall be radiant and empowered for the journey ahead.

The revelation of God's name confirms the reality of the tree. God speaks, "I am who am" as a word of confirmation to calm our fears. He is the God who is always there no matter where there is or leads. He is the God of faithfulness until the end. He is the God who sees the affliction, hears the cries, and knows the sufferings of his people. He is intimately involved in our life, in our history, in our world. He is not distant or cold but a God of warmth and nearness.

He is the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac. He is the God of the covenant, a loving God who wants what is best for us and comes into our life and fills it with purpose, his purpose to rescue and deliver and lead us to a new promise of life not bound by slavery and persecution but one of true freedom to worship and adore and live free.

A God who takes us in the ordinariness of life, minding our business, fulfilling just another days work and fills it with new purpose. He call us out of boredom into a life driven with purpose, a purpose that includes others, a purpose that makes room for those who cry out to God in affliction and pleas and sufferings. Moses' life becomes so much more upon his encounter with God. He no longer just tends to the flock but becomes a shepherd for God's people. He now hears and sees what God hears and sees. He is concerned for what God is concerned.

He escapes the prison of self-dependency; he escapes the prison of living for himself; he escapes the prison of not reaching out to his people. He is no longer just settled down; he is now living with God's speed.

He takes off his shoes; he surrenders his control. He does not try to get the upper hand with God, fitting God into his plan; rather, he lets God lead and direct. He allows himself to be formed into God's plan. He lets God invade his personal space. thus he lives a life of mission: for others and for God.
In the gospel we encounter the tree that seems healthy and full of life yet has not fruit. A commentary on all of us who think we have it all together yet as we look into our life we fail to recognize real fruit.

We recognize that we have been closed to others in their affliction, cries, and sufferings. We have approached God with hesitation and resistance, taking only what conforms to our will rather than being formed into God's will and purpose for us as part of a community. We have embraced the life of independence and individuality seeking to make our own way, minding our own business and asking God to butt out.

To the eyes of the society we seem successful, daring, bold and maybe even innovative yet to the Christ who approaches there is no fruit. He sees beyond our make belief life of plastic fruit. He wants more for us. He seeks to cultivate and fertilize; he does not want us to simply exhaust the soil, the air, the breath, the life we have received and make it in vain.

Like Moses, he invites us to take off our shoes, to give up our control; He invites us to embrace him, his way, his plan, his purpose. He invites us to let him direct and guide our life.

He warns us that time is always running out. We do not have an infinite amount of time; our time is always one of finite reality. The clock is ticking and time will one day be no more. The tree shall fall...will it be because of root rot, disease, sickness, insects and parasites. Will it be because of neglect?

Or shall we embrace the tree of the cross! Will we let the tree of the cross become the tree of life, guiding us, cultivating and fertilizing our life and our faith? Will we reach upward with arms outstretched to be nourished by the tree that embraces death but yet lives?

Lent is the time to work the soil. Lent is the time to see the fruit we have borne and to be realistic about just how far we have fallen. Lent is our journey with the Christ, the gardener, who seeks to cultivate the soil of our life by means of fasting, prayer, almsgiving, penance.

What does Christ see when he comes to us? Are we healthy because of the fruit given or do we just appear to be what we truly are not?

Will we learn from the tree of the cross, lose our self and finally discover who we are called to be?

The three trees of todays readings teach us the path of life, of faith, of freedom, of hope for tomorrow and true love for today.