Meditation for 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year B
(Ex 20:1-17; 1 Cor 1:22-25; Jn 2:13-25)
After leading the Israelites out of the land of slavery, God rolled out the commandments to them. The dictates of those instructions would define God’s relationship with His people; obeying God’s commands would mean the person believed in God, feared Him and hoped in Him. On the other hand, the law was for their own good, to maintain decorum, orderliness and righteousness among them, which was worthy of the children of God. The law was meant to put them aright with God and with one another, which was a step forward towards restoring man to the state of innocence He enjoyed before the fall. However, the law tried to achieve this positive goal by reminding us of the negative step. That is, the law tried to get us to live a holy life by commanding us against the unholy life we must avoid!
We can imagine the complications that this approach brought; the multiplication of laws, the misinterpretations and the mechanical external observances. At the end, it appeared as if the law created ‘awareness’ for sins (Rm 3:20). Still, it was a necessary preparation and beginning to achieve the will of God for us.
Jesus steps in, walks up to the heart of the religious life of Israel as He enters the temple in Jerusalem. The temple was filled with worshippers but preoccupied with every other thing except worshipping God! “In the temple He found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business.” These people came to the temple to offer sacrifices, and were engaged in buying and selling ‘in the name of God’ but their hearts were far from God. The temple lost its decorum and the orderliness that Israel as a people ought to have. What then would become of the people in general? So, Jesus flogged them all out and overturned their tables!
He was consumed with zeal for God’s house. The Jews questioned Him about His authority to seek to purify their religion. Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” In this He refers His body as the Temple, where the perfect sacrifice would be offered. His Body, the Temple, fully dedicated to God, in which is brought about what the law aimed at but could not achieve i.e. putting man aright with God, and with His fellow men.
Therefore, “We preach Christ crucified” in whom is the power of God and the wisdom of God. In Him is crucified the old ways and our unholy actions so that we look forward into the future of God with a new positive action. In Christ crucified is paid the iniquity of our fathers and our iniquities, not just for the third or fourth generations, but for all generations. The ‘memory of sin’ which the law brings is washed off in the Blood of Jesus. The overly religious people, those distracted from worshipping God in spirit and truth, the ‘religious-business’ people, are looking for miraculous signs. While the secular and social people claim they are better equipped with knowledge like the Greek, Christ faithful have the Cross as the banner over them. In Christ crucified, we are purified as His living temple, put aright with God and man, then we offer Him worthy worship. Amen.
Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Sunday March 7th, 2021.