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3rd Sunday of Lent, Year C – Homily

3rd Sunday of Lent, Year C
Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15
Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11 (8a)
1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12
Luke 13:1-9
March 24, 2019

Suffering is real.  Some say, “everything happens for a reason.”  Why does suffering happen?

In Jesus’ time a common understanding of suffering was that it was punishment for sin.  Therefore, if you were suffering, it meant you must have sinned.

So, when some people hear how Pilate had some Galileans killed and mingled their blood with the Roman sacrifices, the people interpreted it as punishment for some sin.  Jesus tells them “By no means” is this true. 

Jesus says the same is true for the “eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them.”  They were no “more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem.

Suffering does happen.  In the Old Testament, the entire book of Job is centered on the question of suffering.  Job is good and wealthy man until he loses everything.  His friends take his losses as proof that he must have sinned to be punished so severely.  He maintains his innocence.  He also holds fast to his faith in God.  As time goes on he begins to wonder about his suffering.  He questions God.  God’s response is that Job, as a human, can’t understand it all.  Job comes to realize that he may not understand but that he can still trust in God.  (Incidentally, Job’s suffering is caused by Satan trying to get him to reject his faith.)

So, what is Jesus trying to tell the people about these two cases of suffering?  While those people were no worse sinners than others, it is a call for us to realize that our time might be short and we need to repent of any sins we have committed.

The story of the Exodus gives us a different perspective on God’s activity in suffering.  The Jews were slaves in Egypt.  They suffered at the hands of the Egyptians.  God “witnessed their affliction” and “heard their cry.”  So, God came “down to rescue them” to lead them to “a land flowing with milk and honey.

God led them through the waters of the Red Sea as we are led through the waters of baptism.  God fed them with manna as we are fed with the Eucharist. 

Did they suffer?  Yes.  Was there value in the suffering?  As Paul writes, “These things happened to them as an example, and they have been written down as a warning to us.

God gives us many, many chances to stop sinning but there will come a day when there are no more chances.  It might be the day of the Second Coming or it might be the day of our own death as it was for the Galileans killed by Pilate or those at Siloam on whom the tower fell.  Their deaths were not because of their sins but it left them with no more time to repent.

Sin is a powerful foe.  The devil is a great deceiver.  We become slaves to our sins.  We need to repent with contrite hearts.  We need to ask God to set us free from our afflictions.  Remember how God “witnessed the affliction” of his people in Egypt and “heard their cry?”  Remember how He came down to rescue them?

When we cry out to the Lord with a contrite heart for our sins, He comes down to rescue us.  He does this in Jesus who gave up his place with God to come down to die for our sins.

What afflictions do you face?  What suffering do you face?  What sins do you need to be forgiven for?

Do not fear for “the Lord is kind and merciful…He pardons all your iniquities…He redeems your life from destruction.”  You just have to ask for forgiveness, confessing your sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. 

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