Third Sunday of Lent – Lectionary: 29

March 4, 2018

Reading 1 Ex 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.”

-Many of us learned the Ten Commandments as children.  However, just like your First communion outfit does not quite fit the same these days, neither does our childhood understanding of our Faith.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers a very well developed study of each Commandment.  Paragraphs 2083-2557 deserve our time and attention if we truly believe that these Commandments are from God and for us. If that looks like too much reading, just read the section on the First Commandment.  If you live that one well, the rest are a cinch.  (However, having just written this I am going to do this reading for myself, one Commandment each day.  After all, how can I suggest that you do anything if I do nothing myself?)

Responsorial Psalm Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11.

  1. (John 6:68c) Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
    The law of the LORD is perfect,
    refreshing the soul;
    The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
    giving wisdom to the simple.
    R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
    The precepts of the LORD are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
    the command of the LORD is clear,
    enlightening the eye.
    R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
    The fear of the LORD is pure,
    enduring forever;
    the ordinances of the LORD are true,
    all of them just.
    R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
    They are more precious than gold,
    than a heap of purest gold;
    sweeter also than syrup
    or honey from the comb.
    R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

-When folks ask you what you do for a living?  Most of us respond by describing our means of employment.  But does work give you life?  Of Course not!  As we declare in the Psalm above, it is God Who gives us life.  God is our origin and our destiny, and the source of our dignity.  So, the proper answer for a Christian is, “I follow Jesus for a living.”  It might seem odd, but it is the truth, assuming we really believe.  

Reading 2 1 Cor 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.

-As in the early days of Christianity, so in our time, there is a desire for God, but often  one that suits our preferences and attitudes.  We want one who agrees with our politics and prejudices, and is against “our enemies”.  Jesus Christ does not fit the bill for those who want a god in their own image then or now.  Further, He offers no apologies for it.  He does offer each of us a sure way to live and love well, but not on our own terms but on His. 

-Are there things about Jesus Christ that you wish were different?

-Are there stumbling blocks in your life that keep you from trusting and obeying Him without question

Verse Before the Gospel Jn 3:16

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.

Gospel Jn 2:13-25

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.

-This is probably nobody’s favorite image of Jesus, though there may be times when we feel like getting violent about things we disapprove of.  Scripture Scholars tell us that the business transactions were taking place in the “Court of the Gentiles” where supposedly anyone of any ethnicity could come to pray.  Jesus’ violent reaction to this violation of the Temple as a place of prayer for all people.  When you come to prayer, do you come to simply relate to God as a dear friend or do you want to do business, by asking for things and offering to do things in return?

-The prediction of the destruction of the Temple was like that of the prophet Jeremiah and infuriated the hearers who believed that the Temple was the sure sign of God’s presence and protection.  When the Temple was destroyed in 70AD, it was a major crisis of faith that disheartened the Jewish people severely.  It would be like if the entire City of Rome with the Pope and the majority of bishops were to be destroyed.  More locally, when a parish needs to close for economic or other reasons, it is often a crisis of faith for those whose attachment to a particular place of worship is no longer available or a beloved pastor leaves a parish.  To avoid such a crisis of faith, it is important to focus on our attachment to God and to eternal realities and not material structures or institutions.  This is referred to as the virtue of detachment.

-Jesus’ reference to the destruction and resurrection of His own body is the New Temple where worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23) predicts the Church coming to be through His death and Resurrection.  How important is worship in your daily prayer?  How might you improve this aspect of your relationship with God?


Father John




addiction-support family find-us history grief-or-loss marriage mens storiespng testimonial womens young-adulthood healing our-grounds prayers calendar malvern-live retreats2go plan-your-visit donate