Third Sunday of Lent: On Holy Ground

BY CHRISTINA LEAÑO | March 20, 2022
Today’s Readings

Over two years ago I was in a church in New York City preparing to join the global climate strikes.

There was a man passing out green buttons that said, “You’re on holy ground. Act like it.” The button was a reminder of God’s words to Moses near the burning bush. It was a reminder that “The universe…shows forth the inexhaustible riches of God” as Pope Francis says in Laudato Si’. (Laudato Si’ 86) 

What would it mean to act as if we are on holy ground? We might imitate Moses in front of the burning bush. We can take off our “shoes” by becoming humble, acknowledging our humanness before God, and being open to receive. 

Then we can lean in and listen. 

on holy ground

The author (on left) at the September 20, 2019 climate strike. The green buttons named in her reflection can be seen on two of her colleagues.

Often when we see something burning, whether figuratively or physically, our instinct is to go the other direction. Yet God asked Moses (and us) to do the opposite. To come closer. 

And then we are to act, as God called forth Moses to lead the Israelites to liberation. We are called to respond concretely to “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” (Laudato Si’ 49)

I reflect on this notion of Holy Ground after hearing the appeal from Ukranian Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk to end the war against his country. He declared that this war was not just a humanitarian catastrophe. “It is an irreversible attack on God’s creation that for decades, for centuries, will be impossible to correct.”

You’re on holy ground. Act like it. Stop this war. For the suffering of the people. For the suffering of the earth.

This Lent may we lean in to listen to the cries of this holy ground and be courageous enough to act. Even if we, like Moses, feel ill-equipped, may we trust in the “I am” who is sending us.

For Reflection:

  • How might we act differently if we knew we were on holy ground?
  • Where around us do we see a burning bush inviting us to “hear both the cry of the earth and the poor” and to act?
7 replies
  1. Dr Eileen Quinn Knight
    Dr Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    On holy ground means a great deal to me but differently at different times. Recently, I was at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary where there was certainly an experience of holy ground. It seems to me that grace comes from the depths of the ground and buildings. The day brought about a holy talk, a sense of Eucharist at the meal and time for reflection with others attending. One can sense/think/feel the transforming change as our Father draws near to us and expresses the need for change. We take those transforming graces back to each of our parishes and unite with others in sharing those graces.May the kingdom of God continue to reign in each of our hearts, in our families and in the communities of our parishes. May the Holy Spirit continue to enlighten us.May the Father give us courage and strength to do His will and may Our Lord, Jesus Christ remain truly present to us throughout the week.

  2. Ev McKeown
    Ev McKeown says:

    This is an important reflection…to listen to the cry of the earth. Many years ago my daughter, who is Executive Director of Interfaith Partners of the Chesapeake, said, “I must do something to change what is happening to our world so that someday I can look into the eyes of my grandchildren and say, ‘I absolutely did try my best to leave you a better world,’” Check out IPC and Jodi Rose to see how faith communities come together to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

  3. Mary Cullen
    Mary Cullen says:

    The Poor People’s Campaign has definitely heard the cry of the poor. If we all lived like we were on holy ground I would hope most of us would think what would God would want us to do and act. That shouldn’t mean pointing out other’s failures. But loving and acting on that love. I would like to do better in that area.

  4. Mary Franceschini
    Mary Franceschini says:

    If we really believed with all our hearts that we are on “holy ground”, our mother earth and all its inhabitants, every living being would be treated with respect. Until we reach that belief, sadly our world will continue as is.

  5. Patricia
    Patricia says:

    This was a wonderful reflection in relation to this Sundays gospel message about the withering fig tree that the land dresser encourages his owner to allow him to let live another year while he fertilizes it. It is “holy ground” worthy of revitalization. We must see ourselves and our earth as worthy; to take heart and hope and then to act.

  6. sonja
    sonja says:

    If I owned my own land, I would not use tractors or diesel powered vehicles on it. Theonly country which gives me permission to buy land, is land I cannot afford to buy any. You need to be a millionaire to own land in NZ. Still I can strengthen my muscles to carry my ladder, instead of dragging it along the ground. I can stroke and hug trees and sing to the plants in my care.

  7. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Many thanks for this. Indeed as pilgrims, we are privileged to be journeying on God’s Holy Ground and living in God’s time.


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