3rd Sunday of Lent – Cycle B – 2009 Exodus 20:1-17
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 hear the Ten Commandments from Chapter 20 of the Book of Exodus, it can remind us how far we ourselves have strayed from the word of God. These commandments used to be the basis of pretty much all of western culture. Today more and more people want nothing to do with them. We have become an irreligious people, a people that wants to choose its own path, a people so caught up in our own intellectual beliefs that we no longer believe not only in the word of God but in God Himself.
These Ten Commandments are given to Moses as a guide for all those who wish to follow the Lord God and call Him their Lord. We need new prophets in our own time to call us back to this God who has revealed Himself. We need to encounter people who lives have really changed because of following the Lord. We need to recognize that our own human paths lead us to destruction.
In the history of those who have followed this God who reveals Himself in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, it seems that the pattern is always the same. People believe for a while then they begin to turn away from this God. Disasters happen and people begin to ponder the meaning of our world once more and return to a belief in some god or in the One God. And the cycle repeats over and over.
Where are we in that cycle? This same cycle seems to happen in personal and individual lives as well as in the lives of various countries and cultures. Where are we in this cycle? Where are you in this cycle and where am I? Where is our culture and our country?
The First Letter to the Corinthians today tells us that Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom. But we Christians believe the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Today we have to make that choice personally once again. We are invited today, on this Third Sunday of Lent, to choose to follow our Lord God, to choose Christ as our wisdom and our strength. It is not easy to do that in the face of our present culture which truly thinks that Jesus is just a good man and that religion should have no role in public life.
We see Jesus today in the Gospel, totally unafraid of the religious or the secular authorities of His own time. Jesus is willing to risk His life so that the temple is a place of God, not of commerce. In our day, when the economy is in crisis just about everywhere, it is much easier to be concerned about money than about the religious values given to us by our Lord. Yet we Christians must stand firm, even in the face of difficulty and hardship, and insist on the values that we find in the Ten Commandments and the values given to us in our Catholic Church.
We may not become popular or wealthy—but that is not what we look for. Instead, we want to be servants of the living God who loves us in Christ Jesus. We want to keep changing the culture in the ways that He changed it: value for human life from conception to death, value for love which is real and not just desire, value for the God who reveals Himself in the Scriptures.
Let us ask today for these gifts in this time of Lent. May we be willing to sacrifice ourselves so that God may be known and gloried. Amen.