Third Sunday of Lent (B)
Every institution, organization, home, or any group, has rules and regulations that members follow. Countries have laws to be followed by citizens. Kingdoms have directives for subjects to obey. The kingdom of God, through the Church, with promise of eternal life, has commands that people must abide by and obey.
Ordinarily the self finds its way to contentment, security and personal pleasure and glory. The world works on accumulation of wealth, love for power, and protection of its own interests. Kingdoms and governments work for success by protecting their territory and by developing projects, normally, for the citizens. Christians try to be more selfless for the good of others and for the glory God. Whose commands do we follow?
One of the devil’s ways is hypocrisy. It can involve the following:
a). Deceit. It is “the quality that prompts intentional concealment or perversion of truth for the purpose of misleading” (dictionary). The devil is a master of deceit. Many times deceit becomes a lifestyle in society. Noel Coward said, “It is discouraging how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.”
b). Dishonesty. A person creates an unfair advantage over a situation usually at the expense of others and for his own benefit. Life may not necessarily be “fair,” but to take advantage of others for one’s own benefit is a sin against charity and human relationship.
c). Presumption. A person thinks, or, at least, likes to think, that he is better than everyone else. He presumes that many sins are not an offense against God. Adam and Eve presumed, and disobey God, because they thought they would become like God. They did not grow in their capacity to become faithful children of God. This is probably one of the greatest sins that people can commit: not growing as real children of God and not taking advantage of the blessings that God gives to develop their potentials and capabilities.
God leads us to Himself because:
a). He wants truth and transparency, because He is the truth. Where God is, the devil cannot exist; where the devil is entertained, God is driven away. We cannot walk with the devil and God side by side; neither can we rest with God and the devil at the same time. It’s God or the devil. The truth is: God loves us and wants us to be His.
b). He wants fidelity and openness, because He is faithful. To be open to God is to allow Him to work in us according to His plan, not according to our likes and convenience. We cannot be open to Him by putting up conditions. Conditions close the doors of our hearts for God to enter and make it more difficult for us to be faithful to Him.
c). He wants our obedience and reverence, because He is God, and He rewards the faithful. We are not worthy of Him, but God gives Himself to us anyway because He loves us. He gives us Jesus, His Son. Obedience may not necessarily be an easy virtue, but it is the best way to salvation. Jesus calls us to listen to Him and obey his commands, to be with Him, because we cannot stay in this world forever. Obedience is wisdom for the faithful and leads to eternal life.
When Jesus cleansed the Temple, He was not only getting rid of the vendors and animals, but was also cleansing the people of their hypocrisy and purifying their motives. We can clean the temple of our hearts of our hypocrisy and selfish motives in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, in prayer, and in service to others. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is God’s gift to us so He can cleanse us of our sins committed consciously, and obtain His mercy. Confession of our sins puts back to order our noisy and confused lives and allows peace to reign again in our hearts. In Prayer we allow God to work in our disordered life and consecrate to Him all that we have, all that we are and all that we are capable of doing. In our service to others we move out of our comforts zones and become one with the suffering of Jesus in His people. The Eucharist fills us with the food of life and strengthens us on our journey to the second life. It brings us together as one family in the Lord and keeps us open to one another as brothers and sisters and citizens of God’s kingdom.
This Lent, let us then be more open to God, purely motivated to cleanse the temples of God that we are and reverently obey His commands, so that His peace may be ours. Like Mary and with Mary, our Mother, may we always remain worthy temples of the Holy Spirit.