Beloved in Christ, as we gather to celebrate the third sunday of lent, the Church Invites us to reflects on why the ten commandments was giving and why the temple also exist. Today also the reading of Mark’s gospel gives way to the reading of John’s gospel and this will last till the 5th sunday of lent. This is to show the prophecy of the resurrection; the event that we are preparing for in lent.
Therefore, I have chosen ” THE CHURCH ( TEMPLE) IS A PLACE OF RELATIONSHIP” as our theme for this sunday. This is to help us understand that the Church is not a place of exploitation and if that should happen it breaks the second part of the ten commandments which deals how we treat each other. Also, this theme is to drive home the fact that Christianity is not just a religion but also a relationship as well; for it deals with my relationship with God and my neighbour. Hence it is in the context of this relationship that the ten commandments makes sense, for Jesus the essence is not the law but a relationship with God and neighbour. The commandments was given not to enslave us but to make us free for a relationship with God and neighbour and also to help us to repent.
Beloved, John this morning is telling us about the anger of Jesus on entering the temple in Jerusalem, for the place was being misused. John is one writer who more often use terms with more than one meaning with the aim of inviting us to a deeper reflection. We are not seeing a happy Jesus but an angry Jesus for two reasons, namely, (a) the focus of the temple worship is on rituals and not on morality, and (b) God was being restricted so much that what happened outside the restriction does not matter.
Beloved, pleasing God for them had acquired a new meaning, that is, something that you can achieve through the rituals of the temple and not in your relationship with God and people. This it was that made Jesus angry, for rituals do not take the place of personal responsibility. Also, people usually think of the Church as a building but in reality the Church is primarily whenever God’s people gather to hear his word and to receive grace through the Sacraments. Hence, the presence of God cannot be restricted to a geographical space.
Again, John sees the cleansing of the Church as an invitation to allow Jesus to cleanse our hearts. For like the Church building most of us look beautiful from the outside but the inside which matters most we neglect. Therefore just as the Lord defended the temple and exorcised the trash, Jesus is ready to enter our hearts and conduct exorcism. Consequently, this third sunday of lent was once known as “Dominica Exorcismi”- day of exorcism.
Beloved in Christ, today God through the Church is demanding that our obedience to the Law should improve our relationship with Him and our neighbour. Let me therefore end with a story. A Priest was one night on his way home accosted by a robber who demanded that the priest either hand over all his money or he is killed. But on realizing that he was a priest, the robber told him to go freely. And as a form of gratitude the priest gave the robber a packet of cigarettes, to which the robber refused saying he does not smoke in lent. Interestingly, this robber though in lent would have killed if not for the man being a priest. This is the level of our hypocrisy before God and our neighbour.
Kindly share this homily with your friends to remind them that the Law is to aid our relationship with God and neighbour. This has been Fr. Dolphyne’s presentation for the 3rd Sunday of lent, year b.
May God richly bless you.