Third Sunday of Lent
Today is the third Sunday of our Lenten preparation. Today’s readings begin with a listing of the simple, straightforward rules in Exodus. However, in First Corinthians, we see that our faith is anything but simple rules. Our faith is in the spirit of a crucified Christ, a God whose foolishness is wiser than our wisdom, whose weakness is stronger than our strength. John’s Gospel does nothing to help reconcile these seemingly irreconcilable expressions of faith. Jesus sees people conducting business outside the temple and reacts violently. Jesus’ anger at the disrespect shown by following the letter but not the spirit of the Law is palpable. Jesus is the Spirit of the Law. It is Jesus, the Crucified, to whom we look for our faith.
LIVE BY THE RULES
Life might be easier if there were just a list of rules that we could follow. There is such a list in Exodus. Rules offer the false sense of security that if we follow them then we will have done enough. Our Christian faith, however, is rooted not in rules, but in Jesus Christ, whose life, death, and resurrection defy all the rules. Jesus knew that strength is born of weakness and wisdom born of foolishness. Jesus’ life embodies that paradox. What Jesus knew when he went up to Jerusalem and entered the temple area was that his Father’s house had been made a marketplace, a place of commerce, transactions, and exchange of goods for money. What the temple represents, who Jesus is, is a relationship, an ongoing relationship of one soul to another, of our souls to God.
RISE IN RELATIONSHIP
Rules are the most basic and primitive way to shape our behavior in accordance with larger principles and truths that go beyond rules. The rule says “You shall not kill,” but the truth is that all life is sacred and must be protected and safeguarded. The rule is the least you can do. Jesus lived as if he were required to do not the least but the most. He lived as if he must not just protect and safeguard the lives before him. He lived as if he must sacrifice his own life for the lives of others. Jesus understood that the rules were not just about avoiding certain acts but were also about embracing certain truths. Not only must one not kill, one must have the strength to give one’s own life for others if that is required. One must not lie but must speak the truth even when to do so seems foolish. These rules outline for us the beginning of our understanding of strength born of weakness, wisdom born of foolishness. Jesus shows us how much is really required.
Today’s Readings: Ex 20:1–17 [1–3, 7–8, 12–17]; Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11; 1 Cor 1:22–25; Jn 2:13–25