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Sunday, March 18, 2001

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Third Sunday of Lent

Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15
1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12
Psalm 103
Luke 13:1-9

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only a burning bush bears fruit

"Leave it another year, while I hoe around it and manure it; then perhaps it will bear fruit. If not, it shall be cut down." —Luke 13:8-9

The Lord calls us to repent not only of sins of commission but also of omission. In today's Gospel reading, He calls us to repent of not bearing fruit, that is, of not sharing our faith and leading others to new life in Christ. If we do not bear fruit spiritually, we will be cut down (Lk 13:9) and thrown into the fire (Jn 15:6). We will come to a tragic end (Lk 13:3, 5).

To be a fruitful fig tree (see Lk 13:6), we must first be a burning bush (see Ex 3:2). The fire of God's presence and His word must purify us so we can be fruitful (see Lk 24:32).

Today throughout the world, hundreds of thousands of catechumens in the Catholic Church are receiving the ancient prayer called the "First Scrutiny." The Church is asking the Lord to search (see Ps 139:23), purify, heal, enlighten, and strengthen the hearts of these catechumens. The basis for the First Scrutiny is chapter four of John's Gospel. In this chapter, Jesus told the Samaritan woman everything she had ever done (Jn 4:29). She was purified and became fruitful in leading the people of her village to new life in Christ.

Ask the Lord to scrutinize and purify your heart so as to bear much fruit.

Prayer:  Jesus, gentle and humble of heart, make my heart like Yours (Mt 11:29). Bear fruit in my life.

Promise:  "For all these reasons, let anyone who thinks he is standing upright watch out lest he fall!" —1 Cor 10:12

Praise:  Praise the risen Jesus, Searcher of our hearts! (see Acts 1:24)

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, August 9, 2000

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 18, 2000