Branching-Out

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Third Sunday of Lent

Posted by Bill Ayres on Mar 19, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Book of Exodus

(These readings from Cycle A may be used on this Sunday)

(Chapter 17:3-7)

When the Israelites escaped from Egypt, they entered a desert land that was hardly habitable. There was little food, so God provided manna and quail for the people to eat. In this passage, they are angry because there is no water, a complaint that seems reasonable in a climate that is 100 degrees with the sun beating down. Would you complain? I would.

So, the people test God (that is what Massah means) and quarrel with God (that is what Meriba means) and God comes through. Moses strikes a rock and water pours forth. Remember, this is a story filled with symbolism, so the staff with which Moses strikes the rock is the same staff that he used to part the water so the Israelites could cross the sea dry-shod and escape Pharoah’s army and slavery in Egypt. The question that the people were asking“Is the Lord in our midst?”—was answered with a powerful “Yes!”

Sometimes, in our darkest, most challenging moments we may ask the same question. Where are you, God, to help me out in this tragedy, depression, betrayal, loss, illness, or worse? The answer is always the same. It is the promise that appears most often in the Hebrew scriptures and in the words and actions of Jesus, “I am with you.”

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 95)

“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” This is not about hearing voices in your head. How do we really hear God’s voice? It is in prayer, listening to and reading the scriptures, and in our relationships with the people in our lives. We never know when God will speak to us through events and people. The key is listening with the heart as well as the ears.

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Topics: woman at the well, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, RENEW International, Third Sunday of Lent, Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Third Sunday of Lent

Posted by Bill Ayres on Mar 6, 2021 6:00:00 PM

A reading from the Book of Exodus

(Chapter 20:1-17)

Here the Hebrews are given the Ten Commandments by God, through Moses. The first three deal with every person’s relationship with God, and the first commandment sets the Jewish people apart from all other nations. At that time, most people were polytheiststhat is, they worshiped many gods that were not the one God: the sun, moon, stars, animals, and many more. Over the years, the Hebrews, too, were tempted to engage in false worship. This commandment is the most important of all, because it creates a powerful bond between God and the whole nation and with each person. Yet the bond was always in danger of being broken by false worship.

The last seven commandments deal with a person’s relationship with others. These, too, constituted a quantum step forward in laying out standards for good behavior within families and communities. Of course, the commandments were stated in the context of a society thousands of years ago, a patriarchal society that we are still struggling to go beyond, a society in which there is no slavery or gender inequality.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 19)

“Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.” On one level, the commandments are words of everlasting life, but on a much deeper level, Jesus is the Word of God who gives us the gift of everlasting life.

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Topics: Bill Ayres, Lent, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Third Sunday of Lent

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