"Unless you repent you will all perish as they did."
The Word This Week
"The man who thinks he is safe must be careful he does not fall." This is the theme of this Sunday: it underlines the need for repentance, which is the focus of our Lenten journey in Year C. Jesus, in the Gospel, uses two recent events in order to illustrate his point about sin and repentance - there is a price to be paid for sin, but there is a way of avoiding it: if we repent, we will have salvation and a new and real freedom. This idea is emphasised in the parable, where we see a tree not being condemned immediately, but given a chance to change and produce fruit. So are we. This links in with the two other readings, which also talk about escape - the escape of Israel from Egypt. This is to be a warning for us, as Saint Paul says: if we are Christians, we must live as Christians, and be aware of the need to watch our lives and the direction they are taking.
Notes for Readers
First Reading: Exodus 3:1-8.13-15.
We continue our look at the history of Israel by jumping to the call of Moses, the great leader of the people. He is called specifically to lead the people to freedom and to the Promised Land: to help him in this, he is given God's name: "I Am who I Am" ('Yahweh' in Hebrew). This is a narrative passage - it tells a story, which makes it easier to read. Just make sure that when you get to God's statement of intent (to free Israel) you emphasise it. Also realise the significance of God for the very first time revealing his name, and utter it with a certain awe and solemnity.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1-12.
This is a very complex reading! It is an example of Saint Paul's exegesis (a special type of explanation) of the Old Testament: everything in the Old Testament is somehow to do with Jesus Christ, and we can see the message of Jesus in all the stories of the Old Testament. So Paul looks at the Exodus, and finds the parallels which point to Jesus. Passing through the water of the Red Sea points to Baptism; eating and drinking the special food and water God provided points to either the Eucharist or the Word of Jesus - either way "eating and drinking" from Jesus Christ himself. Paul draws a warning from this: even though the people were so blessed by God with freedom and all they needed, they still sinned and complained. Our lesson is to be on our guard, never taking blessings for granted and being careful not to fall living a life that avoids sin at all times. The lesson is that sin brings with it disaster and death.
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