THE LITURGY OF THE WORD
First Reading: Exodus 20:1-17
Psalm: Ps 18:8-11. R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:22-25
Gospel Acclamation: John 3:16
Gospel: John 2:13-25
Please listen to my audio recordings of the readings, prayers and reflections for the Third Sunday of Lent. B - Sunday, 4 March 2018 by clicking this link here: https://soundcloud.com/user-633212303/lent-3b-faith-hope-and-love (EPISODE: 81 )
The lines of the First reading today set the scene for everything that follows. That first sentence is the key to the understanding of the ten commandments that follow…
God gives the Law to Moses saying……….. “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of slavery in Egypt”….The “Words” from God that follow, which we know as the commandments are given to God’s people in order to free them, to protect them and keep them in good relationship with the Lord. (God is declaring to us that he is the God of liberation... God gives us this law to make us free…..)…
God’s law is not an onerous duty or a burden,.. it frees us to be everything we are created to be…
The Psalm sums it up so well: God’s law is perfect. It is a real JOY… it gives wisdom… ….. We are created not to be slaves, wearily doing the Lord’s will as if it is a dreadful imposition and a burden… God’s law is life and light….. \
From the outset, God names two things that imprison and enslave us…..
- Putting other earthly things before God… and
- Creating false idols, (making passing “things” into our ‘god’). ……These things lead to disaster. Our Lord wants to free us from this. Our Lord sets us on the path of God’s ways being first and respecting and showing reverence to ourselves, our communities and our neighbours.
To truly understand the real meaning and purpose of the law, it can be very helpful to understand the lawmaker… and then one sees what the purpose of the law is. God is love, God has unfathomable depts. Of compassion… God is just, true and loving…. To keep God’s law is a delight…. because it is created by our loving and compassionate God.
And Our Lord, Jesus, … who embodied and perfected the law, shows us God’s loving, compassionate heart…
This is why Jesus knew the purpose and meaning of the law and how to apply it in Spirit and Truth. And, it is why he occasionally seemed to bend to letter of the law, in order to keep the Spirit and meaning of the Law. Only Christ (who is the Law and the compassion of God), could understand the meaning of the Law so well as to complete it.
A good symbol of this issue in a modern example would be on our roads. …. As you drive along the highway… how many people do you see who look like or act like the road laws are a delight… a pure joy to keep…. How many do you see driving around filled with delight and peace as they observe faithfully the laws of the road…
As they cut in or tailgate or sail past others doing four times the signed limit.
Like many laws, rules or regulations: - we know that the laws of the land.. are for the purpose of protecting safety.. regulating competing rights and ensuring the protection of life, liberty and property… but, in this one example I am mentioning, many seem to go through life flouting laws and treating them as a bore and a burden,… a silly restriction on their “freedom”.. as they speed, cut people off, turn and brake dangerously, tailgate, abuse… and so on…. Too many people seem to have taken this view on the road rules and so many other aspects of life.
“This law is silly and it limits me…….. It doesn’t apply to me…. I am above all that……..so I ignore it…”. But if everyone flouted laws when they felt it was unimportant who would obey any? And what would become of it?
Too many find out by accident that they were not such a master of the situation that that believed.
Actually, as I am sure most would agree…... following the road rules can actually be a joy and a delight, because it frees us to be thoughtful and respectful to others and peaceful as we drive. Gone is the desperate effort to speed, rush, tail-gate and to rage over people who happen to be “in the way”… The person who impatiently tailgates one car, finally gets past them only to be pathetically stuck behind the next car. and all the while they never noticed that these cars aren’t driving too slow; but rather, THEY keep getting stuck because they are going too fast!!!! Some people are slow learners. Especially when they get to their destination (not having saved any time), and with a speeding camera fine coming in the mail… All riled up….. and of course, it is always someone else’s fault……..
As necessary as human laws can be; God’s law is so much better than this…. It is true that, the more we understand the reason for a law and the purpose of a rule, the more likely we will be to follow it…. Of course.. as the second reading reminds us if God’s ways are not like human ways, we have to obey God’s wisdom even if we find it unusual. We can be more and more open to God’s ways….. and get deeper inside the heart of the one who makes the laws not to hold us back but for life, and life to the full.
The key to the gospel today is the first sentence too!!
- “Just before the Jewish Passover…” -
There is nothing wrong with people coming into the temple and offering up goats or pigeons or spotless lambs in reparation for sin and for offering up one’s prayer and dedication to God. In fact, it was the law of the time to do this. The temple was the house of God’s presence amongst his people…
The money changers would have claimed that they were there to simply assist with the people’s religious duties. There are major problems here, though. At one time, “living animals” were not permitted to be brought into the temple grounds for sale. But that had changed. The area of the temple that was supposed to be reserved for Gentiles to worship God was now a marketplace where no one could possibly hope to pray or worship amidst all the noise, and the rabble of haggling. Our Lord saw that the Gentiles were being treated with contempt, as well as everything else wrong with this scene. The fees charged for the temple services had also gotten out of hand, costing poor visitors three or more days wages to be able to perform their religious duty there The attitude with which the money changers were robotically, mechanically and business-like performing these operations was making a mockery of the sacredness of the action.., This was a place of mystery and awe and not a place to turn into a circus with markets and cold-businesslike precision… It is also never meant to be a case of “put in a penny and out comes the blessing”… So, Our Lord was restoring the proper awe and reverence to God…
And, since it was indeed “just before the Passover, we cannot help but notice that Jesus is the TRUE Passover lamb. He is doing away with the need for lambs, goats and pigeons… he will be the one offering once and for all the perfect sacrifice which will now be the means of forgiveness and grace and redemption…. He is restoring in himself right worship and effective sacrifice in which businesslike marketplaces will not be needed.
Also, Jesus will BE THE NEW TEMPLE. Our Lord will be for us always, the presence of God and the abiding promise of God’s presence amongst us always.
In and through Christ, church and the Eucharist…
Jesus, (who not only knows the lawmaker but us actually ONE WITH him), restores, completes and renews the ancient sacrifices and makes them effective by his own life, his teaching, his death and resurrection. And he warns us, just as he did the moneychangers, never take this for granted. Do not go through rituals with the mechanical presumption of a slot machine. Always, let us do this in awe and reverence for the saving law and sacrifice found in the temple that is the body of Christ.
FR PAUL W. KELLY
BARCLAY, W. (1975). THE GOSPEL OF JOHN. VOLUME I. 2ND ED. EDINBURGH: ST. ANDREW PRESS
D'ARCY, T., JOHNSTON, J. AND COPLEY, B. (2015). BREAK OPEN THE WORD. BRISBANE. QLD.: THE LITURGICAL COMMISSION/ LITURGY BRISBANE.
DEBONA, G. (2014). BETWEEN THE AMBO AND THE ALTAR. YEAR B. 1ST ED. COLLEGEVILLE, MINNESOTA: LITURGICAL PRESS.
JOHN J PILCH . THE CULTURAL WORLD OF JESUS/ THE APOSTLES/ THE PROPHETS SUNDAY BY SUNDAY, CYCLE B. COLLEGEVILLE, MINN. LITURGICAL PRESS .1996, 2002.
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Third Sunday of Lent. B
(Sunday, 4 March 2018)
(EPISODE: 81 )
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (or/ The Lord be with You)
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
option two on the cards/ Have mercy on us, O Lord./ For we have sinned against you./ Show us, O Lord, your mercy. And grant us your salvation.May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.
Sunday Lent III
Eucaristic Prayer II
Communion side. pwk: RH
Go in peace.