Thoughts for the third Sunday of Lent

Late again. Sorry.

We open with the Law, this week. For the Jewish people in the desert, the Law gained a capital L. Forty days after the Passover night when they got out from under the grip of Pharoah, they crossed the Red Sea. Ten days after that, they found themselves at Mt Sinai, receiving the Law. Handwritten by God on stone tablets. Pentecost, as it came to be known, remained a Jewish festival from this time.

The psalmist reminds us that God’s Law is perfect, and following it leads to life, to peace and to enrichment. Note Jesus’ reaction in the Gospel when he sees people taking God’s Law and re-interpreting in the way that best suits themselves.

St Paul reminds us that Christianity is crazy. Our greatest hero, the person whom we venerate above all others, the Son of God himself, was tried and executed as a criminal. Indeed, to human eyes, this looks ridiculous. “To Jews, an obstacle they can’t get over; to the pagans, madness.

The Gospel this week shows Jesus flipping tables. It is important that we remember this face of Jesus. Too often, we are presented with a rather prissy, soppy image of a Jesus who wouldn’t stand in the way of a feather. Today, we are reminded that he has a backbone and isn’t afraid of causing something of a stir within quiet, well-behaved social norms.

In the Temple, at the time, people would go to make offerings for sin. They’d talk to the priest and the priest would tell them what sacrifice was required. The sellers in the Temple forecourt were capitalising on this and making it nice and convenient for the penitents. As Fr Denis McBride puts it, you’d raise an eyebrow if you saw your Uncle Derek there leading a giraffe…

Jesus has an altogether different idea of what the worship of his Father looks like, and he shows us what we must sometimes do if we are to join him in building his kingdom.

Jesus depicted cleansing the temple

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