HOMILÍAS/HOMILIES

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Spanish Version

 

Third Sunday of Lent

Cycle B

Readings: 1) Exodus 20:1-17   2) 1 Corinthians 1:22-25   3) John 2:13-25

We heard, in the Second Reading, that Saint Paul tells the Christians of Corinth that they should not demand signs from God.  And he emphasizes that the only sign that they need to have is the sign of the Cross of Christ, which, as he says, is a scandal for the Jews and foolishness for the gentiles.  He reminds them that, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”  Saint Paul was someone who understood very well the significance of the Cross.  Remember what he said in his Letter to the Galatians, “May I never boast except in the Cross of the Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 6:14)

The First Reading today is from the Book of Exodus.  Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the tablets that God had given him with the Ten Commandments.  Those commandments, God made so that the Hebrew people could be transformed and converted into His faithful followers.  But they are also meant for us.  When we obey them, we show God our obedience, faithfulness and love.  During the centuries after the Exodus, the Jewish religious authorities added to the Ten Commandments more than 600 laws that the Jews had to obey.  In Jesus times, the scribes and the Pharisees, two powerful groups in the Jewish religion, were almost the only ones who understood these laws.  That this was so was understandable since they were the ones who had imposed them.  And they boasted of being the only ones who faithfully carried them out.  But this was not true.  Many of them did not follow them because of obedience or love of God.  They pretended, before the people, to follow them.  In this way, they wanted to show that they were more responsible and better persons.

Those responsible for the Temple of Jerusalem were the Jewish religious authorities.  Through the years, they had observed that many Jews came from the surrounding areas, and even from countries far away, to sacrifice animals in the temple.  They decided to rent out booths and tables inside of the temple to those who sold animals and changed money.  To give us a small idea of what this means, it would be something like any marketplace anywhere.  We can understand the terrible impact this had on Jesus when He entered the temple and saw what the house of His beloved Father had been turned into.  And we also understand very well the righteous anger that the Lord felt when He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and threw out the sellers of animals.  We can also imagine that the Jewish authorities could not believe what they were seeing.  In their way of thinking, the temple belonged to them.  And they were the ones who should be giving the orders.  For this reason, they could not stand for someone to take away their authority, so they decided to intervene, asking Jesus, “What signs can you show us for doing this?”  The Lord, as usual, did not answer the question directly, instead He said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will build it up again.”  These words, neither the Jewish authorities nor the disciples themselves, understood.  It was after His death and resurrection that the apostles understood, with clarity, those words of the Master and what He wanted to say by them.

The death of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, on the Cross shows us clearly the great love that He has for each one of us.  The Cross, for Greeks and Romans, was a most horrible means of torture.  And the Jews considered it an instrument of divine damnation.  Even today, for many, the Cross can seem to be absurd and incomprehensible.  That could be the reason that it is hard for many to comprehend why God would send His Son to suffer a horrible death.  But for more than twenty centuries, we Christians have proclaimed, and we continue to proclaim with integrity and joy, that by the Cross we are redeemed and saved.