Third Sunday in Lent
Isaiah 55:1-9 Psalm 63:1-8 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 Luke 13: 1-9
For many of us the season of Lent is marked by the discipline of fasting. Some may give up sweets or snacks or alcohol; others give up a meal each day or week. Most of us parents remember the child who determined with great seriousness to give up broccoli or salad for Lent. Of course, we explained that our fasting is supposed to be sacrificial to help us focus on what is important in Lent, but I suspect all of us have at some time or another been more excited at Easter by the chocolate than the Resurrection, though we would never admit this, perhaps even to ourselves.
Against this backdrop of fasting, the words of Isaiah to “eat what is good” and “delight in rich food” can be a surprise; it seems to go against our Lenten call to self-denial. But as we read more carefully, we see that the prophet is encouraging us to find the nourishment that is to be found in God who says, “Incline your ear and come to me; listen so that you may live.” God’s word is the wine and milk that we purchase without money and without price. The passage continues with the Second Song of Isaiah, which urges us to seek God, to forsake wickedness, and to be merciful to those who strive to do so. Surely there can be no more Lenten message than this.
While Isaiah speaks to us collectively and instructionally, telling us what we should do and how we will feel if we do what he says, the psalmist provides a more personal statement which fully confirms Isaiah’s directives. The writer seeks God as one who thirsts in a barren land. But when he acknowledges God’s generous love for him and praises and blesses God, his soul is content “as with marrow and fatness.” The real hunger we feel in Lent is not for our chocolate or lunch but for God, who indeed seeks to feed us richly if only we will seek him.