20190324 Third Sunday of Lent

Not too late

I used to get so worked up about my confirmation students missing classes and not turning in assignments. I’d email them, call them, call their parents, share my frustration with the other teachers, and let the situations put me in a sour mood. I’d remind the students that, if they wanted to receive the sacrament, they needed to get all of their assignments in by the deadline. I told myself to consider quitting teaching confirmation after the ceremony that year.

I soon realized that I was spending a lot of my energy on five students who were not meeting expectations, rather than spending most of my energy on the twelve students who were doing well. I decided at that point to turn my time and attention on those students who had great attendance, turned in their homework, and shared thoughtful responses in class. In doing so, I was better able to witness God at work in the twelve as they worked hard serving meals at St. Anthony’s Dining Room, putting their heart into beautifying Oakland Children’s Fairyland, and connecting with each other.

Obviously, I did not quit teaching that year. I still let remind students about their assignments and check in about their absences, but I don’t let it eat at me as much. As someone recently told me, you can show them the way but you can’t make them follow the path.

The first reading today tells of God’s promise to free the slaves in Egypt and lead them to a land of milk and honey. The second reading and Gospel warn that even those who are chosen by God can still perish if they stray from God’s path. We cannot assume that we will be saved just because we are Christian, just because we are Catholic, just because we are confirmed. In the Gospel reading, the gardener in Jesus’ parable pleads with the orchard owner to give the fig tree another year of time: 

...it may bear fruit in the future.
If not you can cut it down.

I feel a bit silly comparing my experience as a teacher to the salvation of our souls, but I imagine that God smiles on those who are living life the way God taught. I imagine that God patiently reminds and invites those who need to catch up. In my class, it’s easy to point at a date and set a deadline. With God, we don’t know if the date and deadline are a year away or more or less, but now is the time to check and make sure that we are following God’s path. It is not yet too late. Now is the time that we are bearing fruit so that we are not cut down.

--Alfred

Readings at http://usccb.org/bible/readings/032419.cfm

Living the Word reflection

First Reading: Exodus 3:1-8A, 13-15
Psalm: Psalm 103: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11 
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12
Gospel: Luke 13:1-9
 

 

Gospel Reflection

We encourage you to read and reflect on the all of the readings, including the Gospel, before you attend every Mass. During the confirmation year, the staff take turns sharing their reflections before each Youth Mass (2nd & 4th Sundays). Read More


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