Third Sunday of Lent (Year B readings)
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (I Cor I:25)
No matter how old I get, the Ten Commandments still remain a foundation of wisdom and a guide for my perplexed life! I realise just what Jesus means when he said: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind'. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Mt 22:38-40) I suspect we all find that a very acceptable way to consider our spiritual and human journey through life, for love is of course key to our understanding of God revealed in Christ. And yet there is a nagging doubt in my mind, not something nasty, but a sense that I (and I'm only speaking for myself) do need some more guidelines from time to time. Why? Because I know only too well that left to my own devices I can relax, slacken and drift (maybe not all three at once) into lazy and sometimes bad habits. I may hang all my spiritual wisdom and hopes on those two commandments but I do need the fabric of those eight others to place me firmly on the Gospel road.
It does us good during the long walk through Lent, to return back to basics, get rid of the excess baggage we carry and to focus on what matters. For instance just think what the commandments point out to us in simple phrases like ''thou shall not kill or commit adultery or steal or bear false witness or covet'.
I like this ancient and very intimate manner of 'thou' as an address to each one of us personally, as it makes us sit up. All of us at times are very good at slight self-deception; for instance we can wriggle about deciding that perhaps we haven't committed adultery in reality, but press the button of hidden desire or infatuation and maybe our inner thoughts need a bit of tidying up? Stealing is of course a real challenge because we can steal so many things, many of them we justify in 'innocent' ways, but isn't stealing a person's good name just as bad as taking their money? What about stealing time, wasting it especially in work?
Then of course there is avarice, covetousness, which is an inordinate desire for material things. Jesus is hard on this sin, that's why the expulsion of the moneylenders from the Temple is such a dramatic story, there in a place of God the commandments are being broken openly; the heart of God's love and mercy is being closed off by greed, avarice, selfishness and injustice. Let's look to ourselves; we have this time of Lent to really shift our horizons. We may be sinners, but God's 'foolish' unending love is always on offer for us. Let us return to the Lord!
Cleansing The Temple by Malcolm Guite
Come to your Temple here with liberation
And overturn these tables of exchange,
Restore in me my lost imagination,
Begin in me for good the pure change.
Come as you came, an infant with your mother,
That innocence may cleanse and claim this ground.
Come as you came, a boy who sought his father
With questions asked and certain answers found.
Come as you came this day, a man in anger,
Unleash the lash that drives a pathway through,
Face down for me the fear, the shame, the danger,
Teach me again to whom my love is due.
Break down in me the barricades of death
And tear the veil in two with your last breath.
The Ten Commandments by Audrey Christophersen
"Commandments" is a "Thou Shall"
Humans find it natural to rebel,
Or may be a "Thou shalt not"
Won't give up what they've got.
It's all a matter of God's will
As opposed to any until
God decides He's had enough
Man goes his merry way and rough.
I don't want one God, I've got my car.
One God won't get me very far.
There's my house and my bank account,
Why respect one when there's more to count.
I'll use God's name in vain to ease my pain.
As for giving time to reflect on Him,
I'd rather react on a whim.
Parents to respect
They'll quickly show to me the door.
I'm not allowed to go out and kill
But my country is still at war.
Adultery….. Well it's the norm
Monogamy not in a storm.
I will steal and not get caught,
Take anything that I have sought,
Tell lies and slander my neighbour's name
And envy his possessions just the same.
Do you think now I have room for pride?
Or from God that I can hide?