Conversations, sin, and growth: A homily for the Third Sunday of Lent (C)

Three thoughts today–

1.  There is great power in a conversation.  Today we see a conversation in our gospel.  That is what we see every Sunday in our Gospel.  Conversations are hugely important.  While on retreat last week, there were two parish priests from Louisville with me, one their Vicar General and another a member of the personnel board. One night they retreated to the cell next to mine in the monastery to work on a project: they were coming up with a slate of priest moves. I kept thinking: on the other side of this wall is a conversation that will change the lives of countless people — the priests, numerous parishioners, etc.  Incredible.  Not long ago there was a man in the church who was going through a bad time, a really bad time. He thought it might end things. He came here, for the first time, in desperation. A parishioner met him, talked with im for an hour plus, and the man told our parishioner at the end: You saved my life.  A conversation.  Tolkien and CS Lewis one time had a conversation that resulted in Lewis meeting the Lord and ultimately writing all the works he wrote.  A conversation.  We must have conversations about the Lord, testifying to what he has done and is doing in our lvies!!  Witness!   And we must have conversations with the Lord….we call that prayer.  A CONVERSATION CAN CHANGE EVERYTHING

2.  Jesus hates sin.  He hates sin because sin makes slaves of his sons and daughters.  CS Lewis’ Great Divorce is great on this.  There is a man who has fought with the demon of lust forever.  The angel comes and asks: Will you let me kill it?  Jesus asks the same of us today: your addiction, problem, issue: will you let me kill it?  On our own we’re doomed to fail in overcomign things like this, but with the Lord we can.  That is the meaning of our first reading today.  Just as God freed our ancestors from slavery, he does so again…the problem is, often people like their ruts.  Like our ancestors who wished to return to Egypt and the slaver there.  CAn you imagine?  But we do the same.  We must let God kill our sin.

3.  A word about the tree in the gospel.  We are fruitless on our own.  The whole world, fortunately, is wired for life and growth. There is a creative impulse in the world. Our job is not to produce fruits on our own — no one can — but to let God produce fruits THROUGH US, BY MEANS OF US.  Jesus the vine, we the branches; we are fruitful only if we’re plugged into him–and he’s really the one that’s fruitful, we are the instruments.  Sin is when we don’t let God bear fruit through us.

Happy Sunday