Friday, March 13, 2009

March 15: Third Sunday of Lent Year B

March 15: Third Sunday of Lent Year B
Readings: Exodus 20:1-17; 1 Cor. 1:22-25; John 2:13-25

Last Sunday we heard of the irrational demand of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son. This Sunday we hear of what seems to be the paradox of God's foolishness that allows the destruction of the Temple of his Son's body. The responsorial Psalm invites us to dedicate ourselves anew to the Law of the Lord that gives wisdom to the simple. The first reading from Exodus reminds us of the 10 Commandments of God, which are not simply suggestions for Christians, but fundamental rules of a Covenant relationship with God, who has given us these Commandments as road signs on our spiritual journey towards the Kingdom. Thus living the 10 Commandments is about making a decision to live a deeper relationship with God. It is precisely in so doing that the world may think we are foolish, but wise in God's eyes. Living the Commandments is living out what Paul preaches in the second reading, namely "Christ crucified; a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles, but to those who are called…the wisdom of God". Paul's point is very central to the spirit of Lent. The cross of Jesus Christ appears as weakness and foolishness to human eyes, but strength before God. It is only in the light of faith in Christ that we experience joy out of suffering and life out of death.
In the Gospel Jesus is in Jerusalem and on arriving at the temple he immediately protests on seeing the temple courtyard being used as a market place. In anger Jesus rushes forward, grabs some of the flax from the floor and drives away the money changers and traders. What triggered such an explosion from Jesus? The sights, sounds and smells of the scene before him. When challenged by Jews standing nearby to show his credentials for doing what he did, Jesus responded by promising a 'sign' to prove his prophetic gesture: 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up'. John the Evangelist tells us that Jesus was speaking about the Temple of his body, in reference to his death and resurrection. Therefore, only in the light of the cross and the resurrection would the disciples really understand what Jesus meant. In the second reading, Paul speaks about the paradox of an infinitely wise God doing such a "foolish" thing as letting his Son die on the cross for sinners, or an infinitely powerful God being weak enough to allow his Son to suffer the most cruel death. In the same Chapter (v. 18) Paul writes: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” In the context of the Lenten season, as followers of Jesus Christ, both the Gospel and the second urge us to embrace the cross as a sign, not of foolishness but of wisdom; not of weakness but of strength in Christ Jesus. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) Through our baptism we have destroyed our bodies on the cross with Jesus and rose with him to new life. 2) Living the message of Lent: intensifying our prayer life, fasting from indulging in the things we like most, we may appear off balance and crazy in the eyes of this world, but before God it is wisdom. 3) Therefore embracing the cross may be seen as madness and weakness, but in the end it is the power of God.

©2009 John M. Mbinda

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