FR. TOM'S HOMILY FOR THE 3rd SUNDAY OF LENT, March 20, 2022:
Pope Francis tells a story which he says was the source of his vocation and spirituality. When he was a young man of 17, he was heading to the train in Buenos Aires one day for his school’s annual picnic and he planned on proposing to his girlfriend that day. Bu, as he passed by a local church, he decided to go in and pray. There he met a young, friendly priest and decided to go to confession. Something happened in that confession which Pope Francis describes as an encounter with God who had been waiting for him. In that encounter he experienced powerfully the mercy of God for him and for all people. He knew from that moment his life had to be devoted to sharing with everyone the mercy of God. In that moment, He discovered a special vocation of mercy. He did not go to the train or the picnic that day. He did not propose to his girlfriend. His life and its course was completely changed in that moment. And, because of that experience he adopted as his motto “miserando atque eligendo” which translates “having been shown mercy and chosen to show mercy.”
This story came to mind as I was reflecting on our first reading today from Exodus. We heard, “God called out to Moses from the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ He answered, ‘Here I am.’ God said, ‘Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.’” With this moment, Moses’ life would also be changed forever. He would go from being a member of the Egyptian royal family to become a prophet and leader of a slave people on their way to freedom – all because of this encounter with our living and loving God.
We probably know this story in the life of Moses well, and I think many people hear stories like this with a sense of wonder and awe, but also with a sense that perhaps these things don’t happen anymore. Such miraculous encounters are a thing of the past and not something that will occur in our lifetime.
But, as the simple story from the young life of Pope Francis reminds us, God still desires to reach out and touch our lives and change them forever. Pope Francis, in his mission of mercy, said a few years ago, “Feeling mercy changes everything. This is the best thing we can feel: it changes the world.” The Pope knows this to be a true statement in his own life and we are reminded today that it can and should be true in ours. So, as we gather again today as God’s people, where do we need to have a real experience of God in our lives? What pains or troubles do we need to ask God to help us carry? Are we in need of a clearer idea of the direction He has set for us? Or do we simply have a deep desire to feel God’s presence, to know in the depths of our being that God is real and right here by our side?
In the Exodus encounter, we see that God was very present to Moses and was ready to rescue His people with infinite mercy, love and patience. This is what Moses learned on that day; and it this is what God wants us to remember today. Like Moses, God has a desire to reach out and encounter us in our lives. And this encounter can change everything if we are open to it.
In just a few moments, God will reveal Himself to us just as powerfully as He did to Moses; this time not in a burning bush, but in the Blessed Sacrament – His real and abiding presence among us. But we have to take the first step and believe. We have to open our eyes to see beyond the bread and wine on the altar and to see that it is our God who is present there – bread become Body; wine become Blood. Then, we have to receive that mercy that God wants to show us; we have to open our hearts to this encounter in order to be changed by it.
My friends, once again, God is waiting for you. God is calling out to you like He did to Moses, like He did to Pope Francis. He wants to have a real encounter with you so that you will know that He is real, and that this encounter might make all the difference in our life.
Feeling mercy changes everything. Let God today encounter your joy, your sorrow; your triumphs and your failures; your victories and your losses – let God shower you with His mercy and go forth renewed by the this encounter.
May the Lord give you peace.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.