Homily For The 3rd Sunday Of Lent, Year B

Dedicating Ourselves Anew To Christ: The Law, Power and Wisdom of God

Rdgs: (1st: Ex 20, 1-17; Ps 18, 8-11; 2nd: 1 Cor 1, 22-25: Gos: Jn 2, 13-25)

         This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

As we continue our journey this season, on this third Sunday of Lent, we celebrate Christ the fullness of the Law and wisdom of God. Today, the church calls us to dedicate ourselves anew to Christ our Lord. This is because Christ is the Power, wisdom, fullness and, the fulfillment of the law of God.

In our first reading from Exodus, God gave the Law to Moses for Israel. Laws are not bad because they are meant to make us wiser and better human beings. That is, if we make good use of them rather than turn them into mere scarecrows. So the law was given to Israel to help them become wiser. It was also given to them in order to strengthen their relationship with God and to help them organize their social and religious life. In light of this, the spirit of the law which Christ represents should make us wiser and better human beings. This of course is, if we dedicate ourselves fully to Him. The laws of God in the scriptures are meant to form each and every one of us into a sacred community. That is, a community rooted in the genuine worship of God and living in justice and peace with one another. Therefore, we are to live as neighbors to one another.  The foundation and purpose of this, is to know the God to whom we belong. While the Old Law (Covenant) given through Moses was “bonito” (good), the New Law (Covenant) which is Christ, is “más bonito” (better)! God reveals Himself precisely in his Law. Hence, Christ as the power, wisdom and the fullness of God’s Law is the term under which God, as a Father receives and loves us as His children.

In our second reading, Paul refers to Christ as: “The fullness of the wisdom of God.” The Greeks searched for this wisdom but unfortunately, when they found Him, they rejected Him. On the other hand, the Jews, instead of benefiting from Him, were distracted by their quest for miracles as most of us do today by running from one house of prayer to another in search of miracles. According to Paul, Christ is the fullness of the law, power and the wisdom of God. So, whoever receives him will be endowed with wisdom, and will never operate in ignorance anymore. This Law and Wisdom which Christ represents and gives to us, is incomparable. Hence, scripture tells us: “Whoever receives him will never walk in darkness again” (Jn 8, 12). However, Wisdom will continue to remain an obstacle as well as foolishness for those who reject Him, as it did to the Greeks.

Today’s gospel according to John narrates Jesus’ encounter with those desecrating the Sanctuary of God.  This is particularly, with the “nemó didaskalos” (doctors of the law), who did nothing to stop it because of their selfish economic interest. The action of Jesus here simply shows that He is actually the power, wisdom and fullness of the Law of God. Jesus’ zeal distinguished Him, from the Pharisees and Sadducees, who instead of representing God’s interest, represented their selfish economic, religious political and social interests. It also, distinguishes Him from the majority of temple pilgrims who participated in the temple’s sacred economy. Jesus demonstrated the kind of zeal exhibited by other Jewish heroes who represented God’s interests, and endured hardships as a result (Nub 25:11).

What do we learn from today’s gospel? First we are not supposed keep quite or remain indifferent while things go wrong especially in the house of God, our homes, offices or any place at all. Also, unlike the teachers of the Law, we must not pursue our selfish economic, social, religious or even political interest at the expense of the sanity of our church, family, state, or country. It is unfortunate that these days we see this happening in our church. Some of our shepherds have allowed all sorts of “Merchant Priests, Pastors and Men of God” to besiege and continue to operate in their dioceses basically for economic interests, rather than for the genuine spiritual interest of the people of God. This may be because, they benefit from their proceeds. Our shepherds and indeed, every one of us must rise up as Jesus the chief shepherd did in order to restore sanity in the house of God. There is too much buying and selling in the house of God these days (especially, in my country), that one can hardly understand what is happening. An Igbo adage says: “Ndi mekanic anaghizi ekwe k’anyi mata ndi bu n’di ara” (we now find it difficult to differentiate between mechanics, who move about in tattered, and dirty uniforms, from mad men roaming our streets). We must guard our institutions by making sure that they are truly what they represent and benefit everyone. This is the best and only way the law can make us wise. When we do this we are living the life of Jesus Christ, the power, wisdom and the fullness of God’s law.

Finally, Jesus knew the consequences of His action, yet he dared the Pharisees and the Scribes. In fact, this was one of the high points of His open confrontation with the teachers of the law. This was also, one encounter that probably made the Pharisees and Sadducees unite in order to fast forward His death because, he was spilling their milk. Also, this encounter brought out the prophetic personality of Jesus Christ. Through it, He prophesied about his own death and resurrection: “Destroy this temple and I will raise it up in three days.” This prophecy will be fulfilled during the Holy Week and, on Easter Day. Today’s gospel therefore keeps the events of this season in perspective. It reminds us of where we are heading to this season. That is, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Most interestingly, it reminds us that our own salvation is close at hand. So, as we march forward this season, let us continue to abide by the law of the Lord, which is perfect wisdom and, revives the soul. Also, let us continue to acclaim Christ: “You, Lord, have the message of eternal life!”

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!!

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