In the first reading, God told Moses to take off his sandals because he was standing on holy, sacred ground. Moses was respectful and did as the Lord asked. Then God told Moses his name “ Yahweh,” “I am who am.” A name that is to be respected. In fact, the Jewish people could not even say the name or write the name. They had to leave out a letter. This respect was due God. We maintain a sense of respect with the Lord. After all, God creates us, gives us life, and respects us. The the first commandment is “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain. If we don’t respect God, who created us, then who are we going to respect? That is why our speech needs to reflect respect, not only for God, but for one another. How often do we hear the Lord’s name taken in vain. How often do we hear cursing? I remember hearing when I was growing up. Don’t curse in front of the children. Well, now children are cursing. So now we can turn that around.
Our households need to be respectful. Parents and children shouldn’t holler or yell at one another. If children don’t have respect at home, or if they are not treated with respect, it is no wonder that many do not respect the church. Respect is the basis for civil society and a civil peaceful household.
Often we wonder what to do for Lent. Don’t just give up chocolate, give up cursing or angry speech. Respect begins at home. I-pads and tablets can sometimes take away our talking respectfully to one another. Is it disrespectful to read a tablet while someone is trying to talk to you? That’s a question we need to ask ourselves.
The parable of the fig tree means that we should not put off changing our lives. If the fig tree doesn’t bear fruit, if it is not doing what it is supposed to do, then cut it down. God takes repentance seriously and so should we. We show respect to one another by participating at mass. Our singing and responses should reflect this respect. Our respect goes beyond the walls of the church. Respect is reflected in all we do.
These readings challenge us to ask ourselves what we hold sacred in life. Is mass sacred? What are we willing to do to preserve this respect?
Today, we are called to repent by treating each other with the dignity that each one of us deserves. We are on holy ground.