March 7, 2021 — Third Sunday of Lent
EX 20:1-17; PS 19:8, 9, 10, 11; 1 COR 1:22-25; JN 2:13-25
This week marks the halfway point in our season of Lent. Our readings call us to roll up our sleeves and persevere through the remainder of Lent by committing to a more faithful life with Christ.
In our First Reading from the Book of Exodus, God delivers the Ten Commandments. He commands to not worship any gods besides Him, “For I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God.” He states that those who do not follow His commands will receive punishment — yet, to those who love the Lord and follow His commands, He will show “mercy down to the thousandth generation.”
These commandments, when faithfully followed, help us remain close to God. They are vitally important to our faith. They call us to love God with all our heart, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. God presents these commandments to us with the freedom to follow them or reject them. If we reject them, we will have to accept the consequences. If we follow them, we begin to understand that these commands are not burdensome but rather liberating. It is because of God’s deep love for us that He gifted us with them. They will keep us free from sin and death and help us enter into eternal life with Him. And we are called to follow them fully as God says, “For I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God.” He does not want a half-hearted devotion or a lukewarm disciple. As Christian stewards, we are called to follow these commandments wholeheartedly and to seek His mercy when we fail.
In our Gospel today, Jesus purifies the temple area because it is being misused as a marketplace. He becomes angry at their lack of reverence for God. He spills the coins of the money changers and overturns tables, saying, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” Those who were with Him asked for a sign for doing this and He said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” No one understood that He was referring to the death and resurrection of His Body.
Jesus witnessed the way people mistreated the temple — the place to worship God and God alone. He drives out the evil and works to purify all that is sinful in that place. This is what Jesus wants to do for us this Lenten season. He wants to remove all impurity and evil in our lives and within our hearts so that we may have a proper dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. So, let us ask ourselves, what areas of our life need cleansing? Let us name those areas and invite Jesus to purify us. He became man to take to carry our burdens and wipe away our sins. He has given us boundless mercy, but we must do our part to seek it and commit to living a more faithful life as a disciple of Christ.
This season of Lent is only halfway done — there is still time to work through our shortcomings and purify our hearts for the glorious Easter morning. Let us not waste another moment. Let us commit to living more faithfully God’s commandments, let us seek God’s mercy and let us invite God to transform our hearts.