Reflection for the Week of March 20, 2022

By Phyllis Chandler, Notre Dame Associate

The Lord is kind and merciful… slow to anger and abounding in kindness. (Psalm 103)

Our scripture readings for this, the Third Sunday of Lent, provide rich guidance for each of us in seeking to live according to God’s will.  As an avid gardener and lover of nature, I am especially drawn by the examples of the burning bush in the first reading and the fig tree in the gospel.  Moses, tending his father-in-law’s flock, was drawn by curiosity to the bush that was on fire but not consumed.  There God spoke to him and, as a result, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt.

St. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, admonishes them (and us) to refrain from thinking themselves superior to others.  He states, “Whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.”  None of us are “standing secure,” yet we are called to reach out to others, especially those who are seeking God and struggling to do His will.

In the gospel, the owner of the fig tree is ready to cut it down because it has not borne fruit.  The gardener asks for time to nurture the tree and to cut it down only if it does not respond.  This example reminds me of an incident in my own gardening experience.  Several years ago, I donated an Amazon Lily to a fundraiser.  It was purchased by a local priest, who cared for it faithfully but was unable to get it to bloom.  Over time, I would periodically trade one of his lilies for one of mine which was in bloom.  On one occasion, he used the blooming lily as an example in a homily with the school children, explaining that like the lily, we all need the right care and conditions to “bloom.”

There is a lesson here for each of us.  We are called to provide others with the right care and conditions, so that they too might bloom in response to God’s call.

In this Lenten season, and especially during the coming week, let us find ways to “cultivate” and “fertilize” those around us so they too can bear fruit.