Bishop's Lectionary Reflection
Third Sunday in Lent, Year B
March 7, 2021
We know this story well. God gives the law to Moses. We know this gift as The Ten Commandments; it is essentially a two-fold gift. The law requires first that our relationship be right with God; second, it asks us to be in right relationship with others and with ourselves. The first four commandments are guidelines that show us how to make God first in our lives and how to keep idols from usurping Him. Commandments five through 10 are guides for being in right relationship with others, such as not killing them, stealing from them, lying about them, being envious of them. Simply put, God promises that if humans can obey these commandments, they will find their lives fulfilling and on the right track.
Lent is normally a time for assessing our lives and seeing if they are on the right track. The Ten Commandments can be a wonderful tool for this assessment. Where is your relationship with God? Are there things you put before Him? For most of us, if we look at our checkbook and at our calendars, we will see those things that have become idols for us – those things that warrant our time and attention. Or, if we pay attention to what grabs our focus when we wake up in the morning, that will be a clue also – is it time with God that is important to us or is it something else? And what about our relationships with neighbors? I would venture to say that most of us are not killing or robbing our neighbors – but are we talking about them, complaining about them, lying about them, and secretly comparing ourselves to them? Can we pray for God’s grace to live according to these ten guides?
The heavens, all God’s vast array, all of nature, speak of God and tell of His greatness. His laws are direction signs for living in right relationship with Him.
What do the heavens and all of the world tell you about living in right relationship with God and with others?
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
This excerpt from the letter to the Corinthians reminds us that the message of Christianity is not something that will make logical sense to the thinkers, philosophers and debaters of our world. It does not make sense that someone would willingly submit to cruelty, torture and death on a cross for the sake of others. Paul states that Jews look for signs (certainty), while Greeks look for wisdom (direction); but that none of this is found in the Cross, and so they stumble over it. The Cross is power for those who accept it, even though it seems foolish and weak. In the end, God’s foolishness is stronger than human wisdom and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
In the face of the world’s boisterous cruelty, do you sometimes feel as if you have to defend the Christian message? God asks us only to accept that His Son took up the Cross for us, not to defend it. Are we ready to follow Christ even if others call us foolish? Our decision to follow will become its own proclamation and witness.
Business is going on as usual in the Temple. People are arriving to worship. They are making sacrifices as required by the law. The merchants are there, making such sacrifices convenient. They are selling perfect animals without blemish to be sacrificed; they are changing money so that people have the correct coins to pay the temple tax. Worshiping in the correct way is never easier than it is on this day in the Temple. And Jesus upends all that. He drives everyone out of the Temple because their convenient, easy way of worship has become an idol. They are missing the true point of worship which is that God requires 100% of their heart and soul. I read a Lenten meditation the other day by Fr. Ned Haines who asked us to reflect on the idea that through this pandemic, we have, in a sense, been driven from the Temple. Our convenient, easy way of worship has been upended and overturned. Perhaps this time is a time to assess our way of worship and make sure that we are keeping the main thing the main thing.
Does it feel to us as if we have been driven from the House of God? In what ways have we been overturned, poured out, upended and uprooted? What is God asking us to consider? What does it mean to have a right zeal for God’s house?
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, wo lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.