Third Sunday of Lent
A Homily - Cycle B - 2011-2012
by Rev. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Exodus 20:1-17
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 11
Second Reading - 1 Corinthians 1:22-25
Gospel - John 2:13-25
John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, "Take these out of here, and stop making my Father's house a marketplace." His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him, "What sign can you show us for doing this?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?" But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he has said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.
While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.
I like connecting things, like Sundays in Lent. On the First Sunday of Lent, we heard, REPENT and BELIEVE. On the Second Sunday of Lent, we heard, LISTEN to my son!! On this Third Sunday of Lent, we hear, OBEY the Commandments, OBEY my Father’s LAW! Repent, Listen, Obey . . . I think we can sum up these past three Lenten Sundays in one key phrase - - - We need to change! Last week, Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac, now this week, Jesus is causing a ruckus in the Temple . . . Just when we might think things are stable, something happens. Presidential Slogans have tried to paint it in a positive light, “Change you can believe in.” From the economy to the weather to the state of the world, there is always Change - - It’s not necessarily what we always want, but based on these past few Sundays, I think it’s what the LORD wants!
I realized how much *I* needed to change at the beginning of my “Plebe Summer” at the Naval Academy . . . the initial boot camp for midshipmen, my sister just completed it last summer. It’s got a touch of madness and a hair of insanity to it, but they tell us all the while, it’s necessary! It’s GOOD for us! Each July approximately 1200 young people arrive at Annapolis, bringing a whole variety of talents and gifts to the United States Navy . . . and, as soon as they enter the imposing doors of the mammoth dormitory, they are reminded that they are NOT there to boast of those gifts, they are there to realize as new plebes, how much they have to CHANGE, how much they have to LEARN!
And boy do they learn . . . John McCain said that his time as a Vietnam POW was survivable because of his time spent during Plebe Summer . . . *I* rely on my Plebe summer training to stay awake during the 8am Mass . . . the first three weeks of Plebe summer are dedicated to dismantling, unshackling, “liberating” the mids from any bad habits and selfish ways. They learn how to act under pressure, they learn how to turn away from self-concern (repent!), they learn how to listen to orders, and they learn how to OBEY those orders!
And consequently I have a feeling that the Naval Academy designed its indoctrination program from the original prototype, the tried and true, the ever-ancient yet ever-new, Lenten Journey of the Catholic Church. These first three weeks send the clear message that we need to change, and our Lord helps clear up any ambiguity by re-arranging the furniture. He’s acting quite seriously, because the RULES are quite serious!
Rules, such as the 10 Commandments. Again, a bunch of regulations which seem SO demanding . . . DO NOT lie, DO NOT steal, DO NOT covet! Do WE have to follow these ancient rules, 4000 years later? As Fr. Donahue wrote in his pastor’s letter, most people DON’T, so do these rules REALLY matter anymore?
Well, it depends what really matters to US. I pray that we realize how much we all NEED . . . to change. “Probable should” or “would be nice” have no place here, we NEED this kind of growth. The Commandments were given because we needed them then, and we NEED them now. Jesus disciplined the money-changers . . . because they NEEDED it! Plebes are sent through three hellish weeks of “breaking down” because they NEED it, so that they can come together and be “built up” in the last three weeks to become a team, a brigade, a unified community. They NEED to be disciplined in order to serve their country, they NEED to follow in order to LEAD, just as we NEED conversion, we need to CHANGE, in order to appreciate Easter and the coming weeks of Lent which focus more and more on Christ. It’s good for the Plebes, and it’s good for us.
And so the 10 commandments are not a burden, but a gift. 1st Commandment, God is to be FIRST in our lives - 3rd Commandment, we need to RESPECT the Sabbath - Most of the 1st Reading was dedicated to just these two Commandments! But then, God knows, when we focus on these, then honoring our family members, having a pure mind and heart, respecting others' possessions, staying faithful to our spouses and our vocations, and embracing the truth, will come EASY to us! The 10 Commandments are things of BEAUTY when we put GOD first, when our desire to worship HIM as FIRST on our list of priorities. Why? Because it's GOOD for us, not simply as Christians, but sas human beings!
We should ask ourselves today - - - what is GOOD for me? What matters MOST to me? If it’s GOD, then the 10 Commandments are a love letter, for we will love one another as He has loved us. If God is NOT first in my life, then Jesus needs to re-arrange the furniture in our heart! Our Lord spent 6 days creating the universe, He can spend 6 weeks re-creating US! Our Lord knows best how to do this, for He is a man Himself! We WILL change, by repenting, by listening, by obeying, with the LORD'S help - - - Plebes can be transformed into heroic Naval Officers . . . WE can be transformed into Saints, and THAT is change we can believe in!