Compare and Contrast
(3rd Sunday of Lent: Exodus 3:1-15; 1 Corinthians 10:1-12; Luke 13:1-9)
At some point in our education, most of us have been given an assignment to analyze the similarities and differences between two or more authors, historical events, etc. I cannot resist the temptation to compare and contrast La Salette and today’s reading from Exodus.
God says to Moses, “Come no nearer!”
The Beautiful Lady says: “Come closer, my children.”
God says, “I have witnessed the affliction of my people... so I know well what they are suffering.”
Mary tearfully describes the sufferings of her people.
God: “I have come down to rescue them and lead them into a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Mary: “I am here to tell you great news... Rocks and stones will be turned into heaps of wheat.”
St. Paul writes that what happened to the ancestors of the Jewish people in the desert serves as an example, a cautionary tale, for his Christian readers. And Jesus, by the use of parables, invites his disciples to compare and contrast his words with their lives.
In particular, Jesus makes a comparison between his listeners and the victims of two catastrophes. “If you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”
This quotation figures significantly in a detail of La Salette history. On November 3, 1874, Fr. Sylvain-Marie Giraud, Superior General of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, had an audience with Pope Pius IX. Fr. Giraud asked what one should think about the “secrets” of La Salette, which Mélanie and Maximin had sent to the Holy Father—for his eyes only—many years earlier. Pius IX answered: “What to think of the secret? This: unless you do penance, you will all perish.”
With these words, the Pope indicated that he attached little importance to the secrets as such. That has always been the position of the La Salette Missionaries of as well. What is normative is the message as approved in 1851 by the Bishop of Grenoble.
And that message can be summed up by another comparison, from today’s Psalm: “As the heavens are high above the earth, so surpassing is the Lord’s kindness toward those who fear him.”