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Third Sunday of Lent

Third Sunday of Lent

 

Dear OLPH Family and Friends,

                  During our first two Sundays of Lent we spoke of God making a new kind of Covenant.   Instead of a contract system of

“I, God promise this and you promise that,” God made promises without conditional response from His People. To Noah He made the promise never to destroy the earth by flood again.   To Abraham, He promised that his descendants would outnumber the stars of heaven and the sands of the sea.   Of course it was understood that the people would remain close to Him and be faithful to Him.  However, God did not say that “if you break this Covenant I will disown you.”

Psalm 19 tells us “Lord you have the words of everlasting life.”  Those words were perfect in describing the Commandments given to us in the first reading.  God did not give us the Commandments as a mode of punishment.   By abiding with those relatively few rules, the Hebrew People had a unique relationship with God.   They knew exactly where they stood and could easily see that He was a God of Love. 

The basic theme for the day is Jesus’ attempt to bring the people back to the purity of The Law and the love of the one who gave them the Law.  Jesus tried to bring out the reality that so much of the Law had been twisted for the benefit of a few.  Jesus wanted to change the way His fellow Jews practiced their faith.  The way they performed ritual worship at the Jerusalem Temple showed they were interested only in the externals of Judaism.  Jesus’ cleaning of that sacred site was an outward sign that this “man from Galilee” demanded a real covenant faith from his followers.

As Paul later realized, Jesus insisted His disciples deal with the “stumbling block” of living up to the contracts they and their ancestors made with Yahweh.  Jesus insisted they go beyond the externals. Jesus agreed with Psalm 19: True Israelites always surface God’s authentic will, not in some external

sacrificial rituals, but in their daily lives. The temple was intended to be a place of worship and safety.  

Instead, it had gradually become, in Jesus’ words, “a marketplace.”  What had been designed to be the house of God had evolved into a refuge for thieves.

Just as Jesus called the people of His time to purify their ways, He calls us to the same necessary change in our lives.   What, over the years became simply rote and not a real a commitment must change. On Ash Wednesday we heard the invitation to “turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” The first mandate is more than attending a Reconciliation Service.  It is a true conversion of heart.  Regarding faithfulness to the Gospel, how have I done?   Every day is an invitation to true conversion.  May what God has begun in us come to a happy conclusion!  

Fr. Ron