Sunday, March 8, 2015, is the Third Sunday of Lent. The readings will be Exodus 20:1-17; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25; and John 2:13-25.
Sunday’s readings invite us to think about the commandments as more than law; they are guiding words from the one who made us and loves us dearly, and who is trying to impress upon us the good work to which we’ve been called: loving relationship with God and one another.
Our first reading, from the Book of Exodus, contains what we know as the “Ten Commandments.” In Hebrew they were referred to as ten “words” of God. For the Israelites, a “word” implied an active, personal presence that called for an active response. Through these ten “words” or “commandments,” God was teaching his people how to live in good and right relationship with God, with other people, and with material goods. An active response to these words was expected and would lead to a good and just life; inevitable consequences would result if these instructions about right relationship were not followed.
In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus witnesses an abuse of one of the commandments and makes an active response. Money and profit had become false gods. Those who wished to purchase animals for temple sacrifice were being taken advantage of and the temple was being degraded from a place of worship. And so, Jesus cleansed the temple of merchants, animals, and moneychangers.
The gospel reading also notes that “…Jesus did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.” That is good news for us. God knows our limitations and likes us and loves us regardless, faithful to his covenant. And, as we put our best, sometimes limited, efforts forward in living God’s commandments of love we are accompanied by “the power and wisdom of God” and supported by the one who has defeated death and leads us to new life.
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