“PUT OFF YOUR SHOES FROM YOUR FEET” (Exod 3:5)
📖Exod 3:1-8a, 13-15; Ps 103:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8 and 11 (R.v.8a); 1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12; Luke 13:1-9
🎤”PUT OFF YOUR SHOES FROM YOUR FEET” (Exod 3:5)
I welcome you this third Sunday of Lent. In the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), which culminates in Baptism at Easter Vigil, this is the day in which we have what is called the First Scrutiny/Purification. The Second and Third Scrutiny would come up on the Fifth and Sixth Sundays of Lent respectively.
The period of Scrutiny is a period of reflection and purification. Here, the elect (that is, those who were admitted into the process of RCIA on the First Sunday of Lent) are helped to purify their minds and heart through constant examination of conscience, acts of repentance and further instruction that would enable them have a deeper knowledge of Christ.
The Liturgy of last Sunday helped us to construct an image of Jesus as the chosen messiah, but one who is to undergo suffering. Today, the same Liturgy tries to help us follow him up to the mountain where we shall be transfigured with him.
The mountain is a place of encounter with God. In the First Reading, Moses found himself on the mountain and beheld the presence of God in a burning bush that was not burnt. He made to move closer to see the reality from a close range but was stopped and given an instruction to do something first: “Put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you stand is a holy ground” (Exod 3:5).
A number of things could have necessitated that command.
👉First, the shoes normally pick up dust as we walk along the way. For us, that dust can be sin, and so, we are equally required to put off our shoes before approaching the Calvary with Jesus for the glorious exchange.
👉Second, shoes stand as a sign of freedom and independence; a slave does not put on shoes among the Jews. But Moses was, at the time, serving his father-in-law, Jethro. Is that not a contradiction? So that command could also mean for us a warning against hypocrisy.
👉Third, for Moses to be able to be under God’s authority as the servant of God, he needs to purge himself of his own authority. The putting off of his shoes is an indication of that. We cannot follow God faithfully is we do not first purge ourselves of our ego and embrace humility.
Note that it is on top of that mountain that we shall hear him declare, “It is finished” (John John 19:30). Anyone who wishes to be saved must follow him to get that message. Yet, we cannot follow him well with our shoes on.
In a nutshell, this call for pulling off of our shoes is a call to repentance. Nobody is forced to embrace that call. Yet, the option not to repent is indeed a dangerous one as both the Second Reading and the Gospel point out to us.
If only we can turn wholeheartedly to him, no matter how bad our past has been, we shall understand that he is compassionate and gracious as the psalmist tells us today.
His name is “I am who I am”. Notice that the words of that name are in present tense. This is an indication that this our God does not dwell in the past. Turn a new leaf today and he will forget your evil past, and also remember your plight and set out to liberate you.
May his grace enable us to make a firm decision to follow him in righteousness at all times. And may he not allow our different plights to pull us down. Amen
Have a grace-filled Sunday. Peace be with you.