THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
“THE LORD WHO BROUGHT YOU OUT OF… THE LAND OF SLAVERY”
The third Sunday brings about the image of God who liberates His people. In the first reading, God reveals the basis for us to follow his rules and commandments. “I am the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, the land of Slavery”. What we commonly refer to as being the Ten Commandments, can be looked at as being the ten words of liberation. We can consider each of the commandments as being a liberation maxim or a way God wanted to teach mankind the true freedom. It is in this way we can better understand the prohibition of idolatry, “you shall not have other gods besides Me”.
Today, this prohibition still applies to us…Maybe can we say we are not carving calves to worship; however, – from the definition of an idol which refers to anything that matters most in our lives to render us slaves – most of us have something that makes us slaves. This idol can be religion or sects, money, sex, drug, television or phones, jobs, status or something else that can fill our hearts and minds so that we forget everything else. Either of these things can be placed at the center of our lives to the extent that we forget that GOD should be at the center of our lives.
The Lord has liberated us so as not to fall into slavery once again. HE LIBERATED US TO BE FREE AND HAPPY. The Lord says ‘I am a jealous God’. He is not jealous of us but of our freedom that – if not checked – can lead us astray, far from Him. By observing the Commandments, one walks in the path of light, the path of freedom. Each of these commandments renders freedom possible for us and for others. In particular, the commandments liberate our vision: “not to look enviously at what does not belong to us is one way of becoming interiorly liberated”. As it is well said in Luke 11:34, “your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is bad, your body is filled with darkness”.
The Second reading reveals how the Lord – through the scandal of the Cross – liberated us then and now from the slavery of sin. ‘For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength’. His love was so strong that He expressed it on the cross, the cross considered to be foolishness, scandal in the eyes of men. He showed us a way that no one has ever imagined: not only should the cross not scandalize us, on the contrary it should amaze us. As it is the cross that becomes the place of revelation of God’s love. His love surpasses all our understanding. The way to the cross hence became the way of liberation for mankind.
The gospel reading reveals the human face of God’s salvific love. This human face was revealed in the person of Jesus. ‘Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up”. The temple he was speaking about was not the one built with stones; rather, he spoke about His own body. It is He who manifested the real presence of God in the midst of the people of his time and in our time. In his time, Jesus never tires to free people from the bondage of demons, or the bondage of honor, money and power. In our desire to be free today, we are in greater bondage than any other time. Today, the increase of violence, of refugees, of drugs addicts are far deadlier. Moreover, people live in the shackles of alcohol, drugs (both legal and illegal), sexual immorality and an overwhelming need for acceptance. However, Jesus’ deepest desire is to deliver any of us as he drove out of the temple the money changers so as to purify it. Similarly, He wants to free each of us from the bondage of sin, from the slavery of what passes, HE WANTS US TO BE FREE…
Click here for French version: 3e Dimanche de Carême