Homily Third Sunday of Lent Year B The sign of the cross and resurrection

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Homily Third Sunday of Lent Year B


Reading 1: On the First Sunday of Lent we heard about the covenant which God made with Noah after the flood and the sign of that covenant was the rainbow. Last Sunday we heard the test that God put Abraham through by asking him to be obedient to their covenant by sacrificing Isaac his son. The obedience of Abraham to his relationship to God spared his son.  Today, we see the covenant that God made with the Israelites in the desert during their exodus from slavery in Egypt.


The Commandments were the way the people would reflect their relationship with God through obedience. The first three focus primarily on God.  The first Commandment acknowledges the oneness of God, who had delivered then versus the many humanly created gods of the pagans. Commandments two and three reflect the holiness of God and the need to reflect this through worship. The last seven commandments deal with right relationship with each other. Love of God and love of neighbor.


Though the people confirmed their acceptance of their relationship with God and one another and offered sacrifice to seal their covenant with God, we know it took them 40 years of wandering in the desert before they could truly affirm their relationship. They were a rebellious, stiff-neck people, who were still self-centered rather than other-centered. They complained continually and did not trust God but sought rather to do things their way.


St Augustine described sin as being caved in on oneself. Sin closes us in on ourselves whereas love draws us out of ourselves. As long as they remained in that state of rebellion and disobedience, they were not ready to enter the land of promise and the joy of freedom.


Gospel: On the First Sunday of Lent we reflected on the temptations of Jesus. He came to confront Satan and to restore right relationship with the Father, who loves us. Last Sunday, we reflected on the Transfiguration, when Jesus was prepared for his upcoming death on the cross for our sake. He experienced the glory that he had before his becoming man and the glory he would experience again in his resurrected body. At the same time the Transfiguration was also meant to be a grace for the three disciples, preparing them for Jesus’ passion and death on the cross. They were told to listen to him.


Today, we see where Jesus’ focus is on, namely, restoring the right relationship between the people and God. Though they had entered into a covenant with God, they were not faithful to it. Like us they made their own human adaptations and gave it their own interpretations. The Temple was the sacred place of God’s presence among his people. It was a place of worship and praise. In time, for human reasons and some personal benefits, it became also a place of commerce.


Jesus by his actions showed the zeal we should have for the Lord. “My Father’s house is a house of worship.” The response of the religious leaders, who had sanctioned the commercial activities, was to demand the source of Jesus’ authority. What sign supports Jesus’ actions?  Jesus pointed to his upcoming death on the cross and the resurrection. These will be the sign to the people who he really was, the Messiah. It would demonstrate his zeal for the Father, by doing his will and being obedient even to the death on the cross.


How zealot are we for God? How zealot are we in the discipline of Lent? How zealot are we in seeking the Lord’s will in our life?


Reading 2: On the first Sunday of Lent we were reminded that Jesus suffered and died for our sins and brought back to life by the Spirit. We experience salvation through the waters of baptism as Noah was saved by water. Last Sunday, we were reminded that if God did not spare his own son but allowed him to give his life for us because of his great love, what more can God do to show us the depth of his love. Today, we heard that a central mystery of our faith is Christ crucified. This sign of the Father’s love was a stumbling block to the Jews, who sought signs and to the Greeks, who accepted what was rational. For a man to die on a cross was foolishness. It does not make sense rationally.


How can the death of a man on the cross be anything but weakness? Where is the victory? Paul said the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. For Jesus didn’t just die but he rose from the deal. By these events he saved us from eternal destruction. We have been reconciled back to God. We now have access to eternal life with God, when before we were doomed to eternal alienation by virtue of our sins. Praise God for his mercy and love. 

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