Spiritual readings for Sunday 4th of March
26 February 2018 CGI news
Week of 26th February 2018 (reference: readings for Sunday 4th March)
3rd Sunday of Lent - Year B - Readings: Ex 20, 1-17; Psalm 18 (19); 1 Cor 1, 22-25; Jn 2: 13-25
“The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men”.
In this week of the 3rd Sunday of Lent, the keyword of the readings is "conversion". In the first reading, the Book of Exodus presents us the Ten Commandments, as a rule of life for the Jews that came out of Egypt’s slavery and needed a guide for their conversion. In St. Paul's Letter to the Corinthians (second reading), the Apostle of the Jews of the diaspora (who migrated outside of Israel) and of the gentiles and pagans (Greeks in particular) preaches that the only true conversion is the one that leads to follow the Christ who was a "stumbling block to Jews and folly to the Gentiles”, “since the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men". Finally, in the Gospel, Jesus drives out the merchants from the Temple (the reference site of the Jews) and presents himself as a "New Temple": that which, being the Body of Christ, would be rebuilt in three days, with his own death and resurrection.
The Ten Commandments represent the essence of God's Covenant with his people, established at Mount Sinai, which had been freed from Egypt. This Covenant refers to a series of relationships between the People and their God (first four Commandments), as well as the relationships of every Member of this community - People of God – with his fellow men (six Commandments). Therefore, the first four Commandments underscore the central importance that the true God must assume in the heart and in the life of his People, who should not let be seduced by other gods (gods of money, power, vice). The six last Commandments invite us to turn away from behaviors that generate violence, selfishness, aggressiveness, greed, intolerance, slavery and indifference to the needs of others.
Paul, in his Letter to the Corinthians of this week, shows the lack of logic in the logic of the true God who came to meet his people, through the death and resurrection of his own Son. For the Jews, this was illogical, because they expected spectacular displays of a king coming to liberate the people from the Romans in a victorious and warrior way. For the Greeks, the Cross was illogical, because Jesus did not present himself as a philosopher of unassailable dialectic, but as the Master of Love. In the Gospel, John puts the episode of the expulsion of the temple merchants, in the days preceding the feast of the Passover. It was the period when huge crowds gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the main holiday of the Jewish religious calendar. Jerusalem, which normally would have about 55,000 inhabitants, came to shelter some 125,000 pilgrims at that time. In the temple some 18,000 lambs were sacrificed for the Paschal celebration. It is possible to imagine how much the high priest collected at that time, with the trade in the temple!
Jesus not only shows all his anger at the defilement of the temple, but he also points that the true Temple would be destroyed and rebuilt in three days. Obviously, this challenge generated fierce opposition against Jesus among the temple priests. On the other hand, the disciples only understood the words of Jesus, when the death and the resurrection occurred (on the third day).
We, Vincentians, still have some questions to think about during Lent. What is the meaning of the Ten Commandments for us? Must we be restricted to the commandments or assume with all strength the "irrational behavior" of the "foolishness of God’s love" to us, through the love for those we assist? Considering that "we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit", which temple do we wish to have within us: the stone one that hosts the merchants or the Christ’s one which must always be rebuilt and renovated, in the experience of his death and resurrection?