Third Sunday of Lent Reflection
By Linda Siani, Ursuline Associate
March 7, 2021
At first glance, the readings for this Sunday seem to cover many disparate themes: The 10 Commandments; the goodness and perfection of God’s law, Christ crucified – God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength and the purification of the temple. After some reflection, a unity appeared around the words: law, Word, deliverance, and temple purification.
The concept of law is prominent in the 1st reading, which describes the 10 Commandments of the Covenant, the Responsorial Psalm focuses on the perfection of God’s law. St. Paul tells us that Jesus is the “New Moses” who brings the new and everlasting covenant with the new law – the Law of Love.
According to St. John, Jesus is the Word of God. In Jesus, God speaks to us. When we hear the Word commandments, we think of laws. Yet, what we translate as commandments are “The Words” as written in Hebrew, our Psalm Response is, “Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.” (the promise of redemption in the Messiah)
The 1st reading speaks of the deliverance of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt. The 2nd reading proclaims the paradox of the cross, which is the primary Christian symbol of our deliverance from slavery to sin and the redemption won by our Savior. The Gospel presents the purification of the temple, which, according to the prophets, is a Messianic sign of God’s deliverance of his people. The money on the tables Jesus overturned came from payment for animals to be sacrificed for expiation of sins, and was, therefore, called a “redemptive tax.”
The Gospel of the purification of the temple has Jesus speaking of the destruction of the temple and his rebuilding it in three days. This is a foretelling of his own death and resurrection. The new temple will not be a building where God resides. Our relationship with God depends on the indwelling of the Trinity. Our worship of God comes from God within us.
At three weeks before the Holy Week, we are asked to shift our focus from guilt for our sins to the scope of salvation through the lens of Christ’s Passion. We are to look forward in gratitude for the gift of our redemption, in order to live this time well, “our only recourse is to find our refuge at the foot of the cross.” Although it appears to be a sign of humiliation and weakness, it is the sign for us that self-surrender, the giving of ourselves fully for the life of others, is our Christian call.
May we live our call as Ursuline Sisters and Associates of Tildonk to follow Jesus by our self-gift. Our world is so divided by facts and alternative facts. Let us work to bring “union and concord” by living in the footsteps of the true Word, our Lord Jesus Christ. We can take comfort and support for this endeavor in the refrain of the praise song, No Longer Slaves: “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.”