March 7, 2021
The Lord uttered these words: “I am the Lord, your God.”
Lord, you have words of eternal life.
Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will lift it up.”
Reading the book of Exodus 20, 1-17
In those days, the Lord uttered these words:
“I am the Lord, your God, who took you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.
You won’t have any other gods in front of me.
You will not make idols, nor any figure of what is up in heaven, down on earth, or in the water beneath the earth.
You will not prostrate before them, nor worship them; because I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, who punishes the sin of parents in children, even the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.
But I have mercy for a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my precepts.
You will not pronounce the name of the Lord, your God, in false. For he will not leave the Lord unpunished whoever pronounces his name falsely.
Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
For six days you will work and do all your tasks, but the seventh day is a day of rest, consecrated to the Lord, your God. You will do no work, neither you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your slave, nor your slave, nor your cattle, nor the migrant who resides in your cities. For in six days the Lord made heaven, earth, the sea, and what is in them; and on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath and sanctified him.
Honor your father and mother, that your days may continue on earth, that the Lord, your God, will give you.
You’re not going to kill.
You won’t commit adultery.
You won’t steal.
You won’t give false testimony against your neighbor.
You won’t covet your neighbor’s assets. You will not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his slave, nor his slave, nor his ox, nor his ass, or anything that is of thy neighbour.”
Sal 18, 8. 9. 10. 11
- Lord, you have words of eternal life.
The law of the Lord is perfect and rest of the soul;
the Lord’s precept is faithful and instructs the ignorant. R/.
The Lord’s commands are righteous and brighten the heart;
the Lord’s standard is clear and gives light to the eyes. R/.
The Fear of the Lord is pure and eternally stable;
The Lord’s commandments are true and entirely righteous. R/.
More precious than gold, more than fine gold;
sweeter than honey from a distilling honeycomb. R/.
Reading St Paul’s first letter to Corinthians 1, 22-25
The Jews demand signs, the Greeks seek wisdom; But we preach christ crucified: scandal for the Jews, foolishness for the Gentiles; but for the so-called—Jews or Greeks—a Christ who is the strength of God and wisdom of God.
For the fool of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Reading the Holy Gospel according to John 2, 13-25
The Passover of the Jews was approaching and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And he found in the temple the vendors of oxen, sheep, and doves, and the seated money changers; and, whipping them all from the temple, sheep, and oxen; and the money changers had their coins scattered and flipped over their tables; and to those who sold pigeons he said:
“Get this out of here: don’t turn my Father’s house into a market.”
His disciples remembered what is written: “The zeal of your house devours me”.
Then the Jews intervened and asked him:
“What signs do you show us to do so?”
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will lift it up.”
The Jews replied:
“Forty-six years has been hard to build this temple, and you will lift it up in three days?”
But he was talking about the temple in his body.
And when he rose from the dead, the disciples remembered that he had said it, and believed scripture and the word Jesus had said.
While in Jerusalem for the Easter holidays, many believed in his name, seeing the signs he made; but Jesus did not trust them, because He knew them all and did not need anyone’s testimony of a man, because he knew what is inside every man.
Already in the middle of Lent’s journey to Easter, today’s Word of God again challenges and enriches us in our desire to renew our status as baptized and to imitate Christ in the Christian life of every day. There are many details and suggestions found in these texts. We will comment on only a few, leaving the Spirit the task of enlightening each one in what is best.
The first reading introduces us to the Decalogue, the ten commandments that, on Mount Sinai, Yahweh God proposes to Moses to pass it on to the people of Israel as the code of the Covenant he wants to establish with them. In this time of Lent, a time of conversion and internalization, it is very good for us Christians to review the Commandments of God’s Law, which we learned in our catechesis, which we may remember, but which we do not live or fully fulfill.
Before its contents we have to ask ourselves about its foundation. Commandments are not mere standards of behavior or simple ethical demands to belong to a spiritual elite or small group of God-chosen ones. They are the verbal and vital expression of an understanding of God and of the human person, and of his mutual relationship and interdependence, which evidently has consequences for life in its concrete realization of every day.
The first phrase God addresses to Moses concentrates the deep and vital meaning of the Decalogue: “I am the Lord, your God.” It forces us to ask ourselves: Who is our God? God one and only, who has manifested himself to us in a definitive way through Jesus Christ, asks us: Do you want us to remain your God? Today’s and all-time man has been tempted to exclude God from his horizon to proclaim himself a god of himself. Philosophers not so far away from us dared to shout at the four winds: “God is dead, may the Superman live!” And the consequences were catastrophic: racial genocides, world wars, predatory subjugations from one people to another. Even today, the fallacy and deception of believing that human beings are sufficient to himself and that, with his scientific and technological development, with his rational capabilities, he can gain control and control of everything around us, affects and afflicts us. The pandemic we are experiencing worldwide has brought us back to reality, it has unmasked such a lie. Only God is God and we are his creations, unique and exceptional created in his image, but only creatures. He and only He is the Father who gives us life every day, sustains us in it, and invites us to share it with those around us, as our brothers and sisters who are children of the same Father.
The desire to keep his commandments every day, the effort we make to carry it out, presupposes this understanding of God and the human person. And such dependence and commitment, to which we submit freely, does not enslave us, but frees us; it makes us more and better people, citizens more authentic and committed to the society in which we live. It helps us understand that God is not something that alientes us or separates us from reality but someone who involves and commits us to it, to whom every day we must listen and respect; who loves us and always looks at us with Father’s love. Someone who leads us to respect and love others, in his person, relationships and property, starting with those who have given us life, our parents; and continuing with all who share existence with us, whatever condition they may be, especially with the weakest, unprotected and needy.
This leads us as Christians to say every day with the Psalmist: “Lord, only You have words of eternal life”, a light that enlightens us beyond the material and immediate, the awkwardness and miseries of our human condition, rest of the soul, joy of our wounded hearts.
Such wisdom hidden from wise and powerful has been definitively manifested to us in Jesus Christ crucified, the strength of God, and the wisdom of God. The cross itself is a mere gallows, place of suffering, ignominy and death; But since Christ was crucified in it, he has become for all Christians instead of light and truth, a throne of glory and salvation, on the path of resurrection and life. How important it is that, in this time of Lent, before christ crucified, we identify our crosses, embrace them, and understand that they are crosses that save us because they are part of the cross of Christ, who has come to share with us his weight and pain. Simply looking at the crucified Christ can be the best personal exercise to get out of the darkness, patiently endure suffering, make sense of what haunts us or crushes us every day. Accepting the cross, with courage and decision, not because there is no other remedy, but because it identifies me with Christ is the best path to liberation.
Such an attitude will always demand the utmost from myself, the confrontation of one’s own and others’ lies and injustices, authenticity and coherence in all that I think, say and do, confrontation, to be possible always peaceful and respectful, with those who lie, deceive, manipulate or use others, inside and outside the Church. In today’s gospel we find Jesus in this situation. Jesus’ attitude by expelling the sellers from the temple, as a prophetic act of renewal, invites us to reflection and conversion within the Church itself, to which we can never turn into a market, a source of self-benefit, manipulating his message, distorting his mission in the world. Replacing human marketing with divine gratuitousness should be a constant pattern for living Christian religion and faith in the Church and in society as God desires from each of us.
May the Church always be a house of prayer, a place of encounter with the Lord for all, must always be an inviolable principle. Scandals that harm her by inappropriate, even depraved behavior by some of its members, we must recognize them and apologize for them. But instead of moving away and separating us from the Church, they must encourage us to make a greater commitment to the truth within it, to authenticity, with the desire to reflect in our lives the loving and merciful face of God. Because each of us, by baptism, are Church, living Temple of God, which Jesus himself has rebuilt with his passion, death, and resurrection. He is the new Temple of the Father and each of us must be temples of Christ, a place of encounter with Him. He is the Head of the Church and we, all baptized, are members of his Body.
And let us never forget that Christ, who is the Truth, knows what is hidden in every heart, he knows well what is deep within each of us. Looking him in the eye and believing in his name is the best way.
On this afternoon, Christ of Calvary, I came to pray for my sick flesh;
but when I see you, my eyes come and go from your body to my body with shame.
How do I complain about my tired feet, when I see yours shattered?
How can I show you my empty hands, when yours are full of wounds?
How can I explain to you my loneliness, when on the raised cross and you are only there?
How can I explain that I have no love, when you have your heart ripped?
Now I don’t remember anything anymore, they ran away from me all my ailments.
The impetus of the plea I brought drowns in my pedigree mouth.
And I’m just asking you not to ask for anything, to be here, next to your dead image,
learn that pain is just the holy key to your holy door. Amen.
(Hymn of the liturgy of the hours)