LK 13:1-9
February 28, 2016

The Flint water crisis is international news. It is a tragedy on par with the Zika virus in the sense that it poses a serious threat to public health. The most shocking thing about the poisoned water is the fact that it is robbing children of their right to a bright future. If a child’s life does not end because of the toxic water, their potential to grow, develop, and flourish into all that God created them to be is very much at risk. No wonder Flint parents are demanding immediate solutions. There is no time to waste, because every time a water tap is turned on in Flint, there is a chance that a child’s life might be wasted. This is a crisis of utmost urgency. Our neighbors cannot afford to be and should not be patient!

This is also the case with our spiritual lives and that of our children. Every single time a TV, radio, or computer is turned on, there is the likelihood of a flow of toxic material into our minds and hearts. The poison that has infiltrated our lives is so constant and so uncontrolled, coming at us from every direction, that we have become accustomed to it. It’s as if we’ve lost our taste for what is pure, good, and life-giving.
This pollution is a grave threat to our spiritual lives, but an even greater threat to our kids, who have grown up in this contaminated environment. To them, spiritual pollution is the new normal. We would not think of watering a tomato plant with water from the Flint River and then putting the poisonous fruit on the table for our family to eat. But, neither do we give a second thought to allowing ourselves and our children to be occupied and entertained by so many lethal things.

On this Third Sunday of the Lenten Season, our Readings remind us of the urgent need to spiritually detox…i.e., REPENT! Our First reading offers the powerful image of God as a burning bush that is never consumed. This is a fitting image of our Creator’s burning desire to communicate unconditional love, inexhaustible patience, and limitless mercy and forgiveness. But these priceless gifts are offered, not imposed. We must ask for them. And once we have them, we need to put them to good use in tending, cultivating, feeding, and pruning our spiritual lives.

While God might be patient with us, our Gospel calls out a degree of impatience…with ourselves. Lent is a time to turn off the toxic tap, and, with the sense of urgency that befits every serious threat to the public health…PRAY, FAST, GIVE ALMS…and above all…REPENT! For the sake of ourselves and for that of the next generation…we cannot afford to be patient…WITH OURSELVES!