Two contrasting images we can find in our liturgical readings today, the 3rd Sunday of Lent: the burning bush and the barren fig tree.
What astonished Moses with the burning bush was the paradox: it was burning but was not consumed. A few seemingly contradictory realities we can find in the world today. The most astonishing perhaps is the Virgin birth of Jesus. Mary gave birth to our Lord, yet remaining a virgin before, during and after. No wonder, the Fathers of the Church see in the burning bush a prefiguration of Mary.
Another paradoxical reality is the human person itself. Persons are relational. The human person finds its fulfillment and the authentic meaning of its existence only in the total giving of oneself to others. When we dedicate ourselves to the welfare of others we are actually “burning” in selflessness but not “consumed” because only in selflessness do we find ourselves.
The Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are exercises of becoming selfless. Prayer makes us intimate with God. Fasting helps us overcome ourselves. Almsgiving promotes our love of neighbor. With these practices, we may become “burning bushes” too.
The barren fig tree is the image of laziness, mediocrity and presumption of God’s grace. Whenever we give in to the tendency to procrastinate, we tend to be barren. Whenever we become mediocre in our work and prayer, we don’t produce the fruit that God expects of us. When we begin to think that “Anyway, God will understand…”, we may be standing like the fig tree in God’s vineyard, but we don’t bear fruit.
Thanks be to God we have powerful intercessors in the Church who plead with the Father for us. “Give it another year, Sir, so I would put fertilizers around it”. Our “fertilizers” could be our own defects and weakness. Even our sins, St. Josemaria said, can become “fertilizers” to our holiness when they make us come closer to God rather than drawing us away from Him.
Our God is the God of “second chances”. He gives us another opportunity every time we ask Him pardon for our sins. He loves us so much that He thinks this true love of His is worth “One More Try”! Why not make a resolution to give God one more try in our life?