In those days, God delivered all these commandments: “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments. “You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain. For the Lord will not leave unpunished the one who takes his name in vain. “Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. “Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you. You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him.”
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
Brothers and sisters: Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Gospel Cycle Cycle B
Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture: Zeal for your house will consume me. At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken. While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.
When we look at the readings today, we can wonder why the Ten Commandments were put together with the Gospel about the cleansing of the temple. There is no clear answer, since the people who put together the lectionary have not always said why some readings are put together.
We could think, however, that the Gospel is an example of the commandment not to have any other gods. Jesus only tells us that we should not make His Father’s house a marketplace. But in general we could see what was going on in the temple at the time of Jesus as a way of making God less important than the business transactions that took place there in order to satisfy the laws.
If we read the texts in this light, then we are called to look into our own lives and ask ourselves what importance we place on the presence of God in our Churches? We need to ask what importance we give to being personally temples of the Holy Spirit. Probably many of us don’t think in those terms any more, but it is clearly one of our traditional teaching: each human being is a temple of God and we ourselves are temples of God.
Do we respect our own being, our own bodies our personality in ways that help us live out the mysteries of Christ within us? Do we respect others in their being, in their bodies and in their own personalities?
The second table of the Ten Commandments is really about this kind of respect for ourselves for others and for ourselves and it really is based on the first table of the Ten Commandments, which speak about our relationship with the living God.
In this time of Lent it can be helpful to read these Ten Commandments once again and to ponder them—not just read them and forget them! So much of morality in our present world is based on these Ten Commandments. We don’t have to read them as some kind of oppressive law dreamed up by our Jewish ancestors and with which we are now stuck! Rather, we can read them as part of the wisdom tradition that tries to pass down an understanding of living that will help each one of us.
Jesus our Lord teaches us that the whole way of life which He invites us to live can be summed up in loving God and loving our neighbor. It is very simple and straightforward and all the other teachings only clarify what is meant by these two basic invitations to live a divine life.
Let us ask in this time of Lent that we might cleanse our own temples, clearing out all that prevents us from being a pure offering of love to God and our neighbor.