Sunday, March 7, 2021, Third Sunday of Lent
The Ten Commandments
First Reading Commentary: Exodus 20:1-17
With the Ten Commandments, God made a covenant with the children of Israel. The agreement was that they would be God's chosen people and that He would take care of them and in return, the people were to obey the Commandments.
The Commandments are all about what is right and wrong and common since. And yet, they are not always easily followed. Temptation lurks everywhere and sometimes we break a commandment without meaning to do so. Sometimes, we don't even realize that we are. For example, many people gossip or spread rumors and never think that they may be breaking the eighth commandment, which says that we should not bear false witness—lie. But rumors and gossip are not always truthful and talking about someone behind their back is bearing false witness.
In order to live a life in obedience to the Commandments, one must believe in God and believe that He created all things. We profess our faith through our religion. I respect all religions mainly because we all have a free will which makes it our God given right to choose. Having faith in God myself, no matter how much I may disagree with one’s religion, I understand that their religion is their choice and better than having no religion at all. I choose Catholicism and as a Catholic Christian, I accept and believe in the Commandments.
Then there are those in science, most of whom are good people, but they are always looking for physical evidence to prove creation and other phenomena of nature and as a result, they have faith issues. God does not have a problem with science’s questions, but science needs to understand that all of creation is God’s work and when there are no more questions to ask, there will only be God.
When Jesus was asked what the Greatest Commandment was, He answered with two. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
Jesus gave this answer because each of the Ten Commandments is connected to one of the two Greatest Commandments. If you do not obey the first Greatest Commandment, you cannot obey the second and if you do not obey the second, you will not obey the first. That is because if you put all of your faith in God and love Him, you will obey all of the Commandments because of your love for Him. Therefore, failing to obey the second Greatest Commandment demonstrates a lack of faith in God and/or a lack of love for Him.
Some people say that the Commandments are old and outdated and need to change with the times. Well, God, in the person of Jesus the Son, did update the Commandments with the two Greatest Commandments and with the Beatitudes. Matthew 5:3-12 He also talked about obeying the Commandments and gave a warning about the sixth commandment when He said, "...everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:28 Consider this: you may think that the Commandments are too strict and need to change with the times, but God is time! Do you really have the guts to tell God that He needs to change? If you do not want to follow the path of Lucifer, you better say, NO!”
The Ten Commandments & Relation to Greatest Commandment
1-Thou shall have no God before me first
2-Thou shall not take the name of God in vain first
3-Keep holy the Sabbath Day first
4-Thou shall honor your father and your mother second
5-Thou shall not kill second
6-Thou shall not commit adultery second
7-Thou shall not steal second
8-Thou shall not bear false witness second
9-Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's wife second
10-Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods second
Faith Does Not Need a Sign
Second Reading Commentary: 1 Corinthians 1:22-25
In order to prove anything, no matter what it may be, evidence is required. In a court of law, a ruling cannot be made without evidence. In our everyday lives, we tend to not believe anything for which there is no proof.
So, it is in our world. But in God’s world, evidence and the need for proof is replaced with faith because we have already been given all of the proof that we should need. This is why when Jesus was challenged by the Pharisees to give a sign in Matthew 12:38, He refused to give one. Instead, Jesus said, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it…” Matthew 12:39
This is the subject in today’s reading from Paul. He says that, “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified which is a stumbling block for Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” Paul was saying that non-believing Jews and Gentiles alike; had no faith.
At first glance, you might think that the Greeks had it right because wisdom is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. However, remember that in Paul’s day, there were many philosophers and highly educated people living in Corinth in Greek society. Seeking wisdom and knowledge was very important in Greek culture. Therefore, it was not the Spirit’s gift that the Greeks sought. Looking for wisdom was their way of proclaiming that they had found a sign and understood it.
The first part of Paul’s statement leads one to believe that his message is specific to Jews and Greeks. But when we consider Paul’s point that proclaiming Christ crucified is foolishness to the Gentiles, all of a sudden, Paul’s target audience becomes anyone who is not a Jew, because anyone who is not a Jew, is a Gentile. Therefore, Paul’s message was for everyone.
In today’s world, anyone who is without faith is like the Jews, Greeks and Gentiles that Paul was talking about in his letter to the Corinthians. But those of us who have faith and do proclaim Christ do not look for signs. We have accepted the proof which has already been given to us.
We know that God is the Creator of all things. We do not limit our faith in Scripture to the Old Testament because we know that Christ fulfilled the prophecies and actually relived the Old Testament. We know that Christ is the Son who was sent by the Father for our salvation. We know that in completing His mission, the Son makes all things new and that the Son’s mission will be totally fulfilled on the last day when all of those with faith will enter into the New Jerusalem, the Kingdom of Heaven as is described in the book of Revelation.
Paul puts it very eloquently when he says, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” Knowing this to be true is the reason why those of us who proclaim Christ from the heart have the faith to do so. In fact, we know that there is no foolishness in God and there is no weakness in God. Therefore, it is foolish and weak not to believe in God.
Respect God’s House
Gospel Commentary: John 2:13-25
It is common courtesy to respect someone’s house when you visit. There are certain things that you just don’t do—at least not without permission. You don’t go into someone’s refrigerator or put your feet up on the coffee table and you ask before you enter the bathroom. Today’s Gospel is about respecting God’s house.
Today, we hear John’s account of Jesus cleansing the temple. People had turned the temple area into a marketplace with money changers and people selling oxen, sheep and doves. Jesus made a whip out of cords and drove them all out and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. Jesus told the people selling the doves to take them out of the temple. Under Jewish Law, the doves were the offerings of the poor. The dove is also one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit. These facts about the dove suggest that the presence of the doves in this setting was an even greater offense and insult to Jesus.
Then Jesus said, “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” Luke and Matthew tell us that Jesus said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.’” Mark tells us that Jesus said virtually the same thing. It is worth noting here that there are many events in the life of Christ that are covered in more than one of the four Gospels. But there are few events that are covered in all four Gospels. That fact is evidence that we should take to heart the Cleansing of the Temple and the messages that Jesus gives us in doing so with the utmost of importance.
What was so important about this temple that Jesus became so angry? After all, the people are the Church and not the building. Also, as we are told so many times, our bodies are temples. So why was Jesus so concerned about this building?
No matter how we choose to profess our faith, the building, that we call church or temple or synagogue or mosque, is the place that we gather together as one to profess our faith and worship our God. That is why we refer to it as God’s House and Jesus looked at the temple in the same way. We also have to keep in mind that during the time of Christ, under Jewish law originating in the book of Exodus, the temple was the dwelling place of the LORD and therefore a holy and sacred place. Refer to Exodus 40.
In all four of the Gospels about this event, Jesus is proclaiming His divinity. This causes the disciples to recall the words of Scripture, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Scripture comes from Psalm 69:10 where David laments over the fact that he is out casted by people, including his family, because of his love for the LORD’s house.
Obviously, these Jews who had turned the temple into a marketplace had no respect for the Lord's house. So, they asked Jesus for a sign for what He was doing. What they wanted was for Jesus to prove Himself as being God which is the only thing that would give Him the authority to claim the temple as His Father’s House and act in such a way. To their challenge, Jesus said, “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?”
The Jews clearly did not have faith in Jesus or understand what Jesus was talking about which was the temple of His own body which would be Resurrected on the third day after the crucifixion. After the Resurrection, the disciples remembered what Jesus had said on this day and they came to believe the Scripture and what Jesus had said.
But there is an even deeper meaning to what Jesus said. When we look at the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:22, we see that there is no temple building because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb is the temple. Therefore, Jesus was warning us that when we disrespect our place of worship; we disrespect God Himself and those who destroy His temple here on earth will have no place in His temple in the Kingdom. But those who respect His temple here on earth will enter the temple in the Kingdom. Jesus was telling us to respect our bodies as temples as well as the physical place that we go to worship God.