The One who Upsets the Status Quo.
The Third Sunday of Lent 2021
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March 7, 2021
Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25; John 213-25
When we read the Gospel, we have an advantage over the people in biblical times because we know fully the identity of Jesus, but the people of his day had lots of questions about who he was. When he arrived at the Temple in preparation for Passover, people knew that he was filled with wisdom and a wonder worker, but he was destructive of the most sacred place in Jewish life. A good Jew would have had more respect for the Temple because, in the end, the Temple authorities were instrumental in putting Jesus to death. Every action of Jesus was a direct threat to the Temple-centered theology because he preached a Kingdom-centered theology.
The debate between the law and mercy is an eternal one, which is at the root of most social concerns today. In the Exodus reading, God delivers the commandments to the people through Moses, and the supremacy of following the Law shows that we are faithful to God. To belong to a group, we always need rules to show who is inside the circle and who lies beyond, and the boundaries change when they respond to the dynamic needs of the people. Laws are not to be followed just because they are a law; a law must be based on love for the community and serve the common good. An unjust law is no law at all – because it lacks love. In this case, we have a conflict over what is permitted and what is right.
While it was customary for people to buy birds or animals to make a sacrifice at the Temple, a whole system of commerce developed in the outer courtyards, and it turned into a profitable business where merchants and Temple authorities profited and became comfortable. Merchants took advantage of a religious devotion and exploited those who were least able to provide their ritual obligation. The outburst from Jesus threatened the economy of merchants and those who profited from renting out the space. His actions were the last straw in determining how to deal with him. He challenged the Temple authority too many times, and he kept winning converts. The Chief Priests and Elders decided his threat to their authority, status, and economic livelihood was too close for comfort.
Whereas today, we have our laws that overall protect and serve us well, not all do, and sometimes those laws and traditions are challenged, but Jesus has not changed and he is still proposing his Kingdom-centered theology that challenges the modern day Temple Authorities. Those who threaten long-standing traditions will find themselves in unsafe situations, because they threaten the status, privilege, attitudes, and thoughts of those is authority, but the key is to remain faithful to the person of Jesus, the one who was transfigure last week, the one who had the dove descend upon him at the Jordan River, the one who relied upon God in the desert. We know Jesus, and we know that he means to set us right with God in all things. He will work for our good, and he will is our deliverer. Scripture teaches us to trust him. He will always lead us to the truth of God’s will, no matter what it costs him, even if that is his life.
Scripture for Daily Mass
Monday: (2 Kings 5) Naaman, the king of Aram, contracted leprosy. A captured girl wanted him to present himself to the prophet in Samaria. Naaman was instructed to wash seven times in the Jordan River and his flesh became again like the flesh of a little child.
Tuesday: (Daniel 3) Azariah asked for the Lord’s deliverance. He asked that the Lord deal with them in kindness and with great mercy.
Wednesday: (Deuteronomy 4) Moses spoke to the people asking them to hear and heed the statutes and decrees he received from the Lord. Do not forget the things the Lord has done.
Thursday: (Jeremiah 7) They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.
Friday: (Hosea 14) Return to God, who forgives all iniquity. The Lord will heal their defection and love them freely for his wrath is turned away from them.
Saturday: (Hosea 6) Come, let us return to the Lord. It is love that I desire, not sacrificed, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Monday: (Luke 4) Jesus reminded people that a prophet is without honor in his own land and he called the mind the story of Naaman, the foreigner from Syria, who was cured.
Tuesday: (Matthew 18) Peter asked Jesus about forgiveness. He said to forgiven seventy-seven time because unless each person forgives from the heart, he will not be forgiven.
Wednesday: (Matthew 5) Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Each commandment is to be observed; the one who does it will be the greatest in the Kingdom.
Thursday: (Luke 11) Jesus drove out a demon that was mute and was then accused of being in league with Beelzebul. Jesus explained to them how that does not make much sense.
Friday: (Mark 12) A scribe asked Jesus to declare which is the first commandment. Love the God with you whole soul and your neighbor like yourself. The scribe was well pleased.
Saturday: (Luke 18) Jesus told a parable about prayer to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. The one who is humble is favored by God.
Saints of the Week
March 7: Perpetua and Felicity (d. 203), were two catechumens arrest and killed during a persecution in North Africa. Perpetua was a young noblewoman who was killed alongside her husband, their young son, and their pregnant slave, Felicity. They were baptized while under arrest and would not renounce their faith. Felicity was excused from death because it was unlawful to kill a pregnant woman, but she gave birth prematurely three days before the planned execution. They were flogged, taunted by wild beasts, and then beheaded. They appear in the First Eucharistic Prayer.
March 8: John of God (1495-1550), was a Portuguese soldier of fortune who was brought to Spain as a child. He was a slave master, shepherd, crusader, bodyguard and peddler. As he realized that he frittered away his life, he sought counsel from John of Avila. He then dedicated his life to care for the sick and the poor. He formed the Order of Brothers Hospitallers and is the patron saint of hospitals and the sick.
March 9: Frances of Rome (1384-1440), was born into a wealthy Roman family and was married at age 13. She bore six children and when two died in infancy, she worked to bring the needs of the less fortunate to others. She took food to the poor, visited the sick, cared for the needy in their homes. When other women joined in her mission, they became Benedictine oblates. She founded a monastery for them after her husband's death.
This Week in Jesuit History
- Mar 7, 1581. The Fifth General Congregation of the Society bound the professors of the Society to adhere to the doctrine of St Thomas Aquinas.
- Mar 8, 1773. At Centi, in the diocese of Bologna, Cardinal Malvezzi paid a surprise visit to the Jesuit house, demanding to inspect their accounting books.
- Mar 9, 1764. In France, all Jesuits who refused to abjure the Society were ordered by Parliament to leave the realm within a month. Out of 4,000 members only five priests, two scholastics, and eight brothers took the required oath; the others were driven into exile.
- Mar 10, 1615. The martyrdom in Glasgow, Scotland, of St John Ogilvie.
- Mar 11, 1848. In Naples, Italy, during the 1848 revolution, 114 Jesuits, after much suffering, were put into carts and driven ignominiously out of the city and the kingdom.
- Mar 12, 1622. Pope Gregory XV canonized Sts Ignatius, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, and Philip Neri.
- Mar 13, 1568. John Segura and five companions set sail from Spain for Florida, a fertile field of martyrs. (Nine Jesuits were killed there between 1566 and 1571.)