Third Sunday of Lent
Ex 20:1-17; 1 Cor 1:22-25; Jn 2:13-25 (Year B)
The Commandments of the Law entrusted to Moses, considered in isolation, can appear as the insistent demands of a distant God. They do not stand easily with the modern preoccupation with self-determination.
The psalmist, voicing the longing of God’s faithful people, understood the Commandments as the path to life itself. For him, God’s precepts were “more to be desired than gold, sweeter than honey from the comb”.
The psalmist understood that the Commandments were born of love, a love that had looked with compassion on a captive people, a love that had longed to deliver them from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. During Lent we confess to an enslavement of a different kind. Sin is the slavery that frustrates our longing for wholeness. It touches everything, disturbing our peace of mind and undermining our relationships with God and each other. A loving Father reaches down to us with the same compassion shown to his people in Egypt. He hears our cry, and, in his Son Jesus Christ, leads us to freedom.
Far from being an imposition, the Commandments are a pathway for the heart. We long for the love of God, therefore we shall avoid putting anything in his place. We cherish the relationships that sustain our lives. Therefore we shall do nothing that undermines family and society’s flourishing. If we are to grow in a love of God that enriches all relationships, his Law cannot remain remote. In the words of Moses, it must be in our heads and on our lips and in our hearts.
John’s account of the cleansing of the Temple cannot be appreciated without an understanding of God’s holiness. From the beginning the children of Israel understood that God, in choosing them, had made them his dwelling place. They, like God himself, were to become a holy people. The holiness to which they were called was expressed in the holiness of the Jerusalem Temple, the abiding expression of God’s presence. This explains the anger of Jesus at those who had turned his Father’s house into a marketplace.
As Jesus had predicted, the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. He himself, in the days of his Passion and Resurrection, became God’s saving presence among us. Through the power of that same Resurrection we become the dwelling place of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. During Lent let us repent of the sin that dishonours his presence and pray for the repentance that restores us to his holiness.
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