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Third Sunday in Lent [B], March 19, 2006

By: John Bucki, S.J.

Readings
Exodus 20:1-17 or 20:1-3, 7-8, 12-17
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
John 2:13-25
(Some Catholic communities may opt to use the alternate A-cycle readings if they are celebrating the Scrutinies with the RCIA.)

In the face of the terrible challenge of poverty afflicting so much of the world's population, indifference and self-centered isolation stand in stark contrast to the "gaze" of Christ.
Benedict XVI, Message for Lent 2006

Exodus 20:1-17 or 20:1-3, 7-8, 12-17
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
John 2:13-25
(Some Catholic communities may opt to use the alternate A-cycle readings if they are celebrating the Scrutinies with the RCIA.)

Calendar
March 20: Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Usually celebrated on March 19)
March 20: Spring Equinox
March 21: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
March 22: World Water Day
March 24: Anniversary of the martyrdom of Archbishop Oscar Romero
March 25: Feast of the Annunciation

Quotes
In the face of the terrible challenge of poverty afflicting so much of the world's population, indifference and self-centered isolation stand in stark contrast to the "gaze" of Christ.
Benedict XVI, Message for Lent 2006

Faced with the tragic situation of persistent poverty which afflicts so many people in our world, how can we fail to see that the quest for profit at any cost and the lack of effective, responsible concern for the common good have concentrated immense resources in the hands of a few while the rest of humanity suffers in poverty and neglect?
John Paul II, 2003 Lenten Message

In the days ahead we must not consider it unpatriotic to raise certain basic questions about our national character. We must begin to ask, "Why are there forty million poor people in a nation overflowing with such unbelievable affluence? Why has our nation placed itself in the position of being God's military agent on earth...? Why have we substituted the arrogant undertaking of policing the whole world for the high task of putting our own house in order?"
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As we enter the Lenten season, we need to be aware of today's international situation, troubled by the tensions and threats of war. It is necessary that everyone consciously assume responsibility and engage in a common effort to spare humanity another tragic conflict. . . We must ask God, first of all, for conversion of heart, for it is in the heart that every form of evil, every impulse to sin is rooted; we must pray and fast for the peaceful coexistence of peoples and nations.
John Paul II, Ash Wednesday Audience, 2003

Thoughts for Your Consideration
The gospel story of Jesus "purification of the temple" reminds us of Jesus the reformer. In some way our Christian life is a journey of constant renewal. In every age we are called to renew our personal life, the life of our church, and the life of our world. Our social teaching calls us to renewal of the values and actions that bind us together as human beings.

Jesus "purifies" the temple, because values have gotten out of whack. Now may be a time to look at the values of our global world that need reform:
a global economy that has left billions of people in poverty,
a trading system that is biased against the developing world,
an economic system that keeps so many women and children without economic justice,
a system of international relationships that is based on military might and that resorts to war and the threat of war,
unjust conditions that force millions of people to leave their homes and cultures and become refugees and immigrants,
a health care system that does not offer its resources to everyone.

The list could go on and on.

The selection from Exodus starts by reminding the people of the "exodus event." Our God is a God who has liberated the people from slavery and led them to freedom. Each of the ten commandments in the first reading can be seen as an invitation to renewal of our social relationships and not just our personal life. Each can be seen as a call to liberation for all. They call us to look at social sin and not just personal sin. When used well they can lead us to liberation for our whole community.

  • Doesn't "You shall not have other gods besides me" call us to turn away from the gods of wealth, social status, greed and military and political power?
  • Doesn't "You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain" remind us to respect God not just in our use of language but also in the language of our deeds and in our treatment of creation and one another?
  • Doesn't "Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day" call us to avoid overwork and preoccupation with possessions and money, but also to make sure that all people have the opportunity for rest and recreation and that all laborers are treated with respect and have the wages and time to live in dignity?
  • Doesn't "Honor your father and your mother" challenge us to look beyond ourselves and to respect our elders and not just those related to us but also all of our elders, especially those who are poor or otherwise in need? Doesn't our social policy have to embody these values?
  • Doesn't "You shall not kill" apply to nations as well as individuals?
  • Doesn't "You shall not commit adultery" invite us to think about healthy relationships on all levels and about the social conditions that make family life difficult and the social norms that challenge healthy relationships of respect?
  • Doesn't "You shall not steal" apply to corporations and governments as well as individuals?
  • Doesn't "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" call us to make sure that integrity is part of our public life? Does it not apply to governments and other agencies? Do we not have a right to expect our public institutions to operate in a transparent way?
  • Doesn't "You shall not covet your neighbor's house" make us look beyond our own desires and respect the common good of the whole community?
  • Doesn't "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife" remind us to treat no human person as a possession for our use but a creation of God filled with dignity and entitled to respect?

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
What are the things that need renewal or reform in our world?
Who are the "money changers or traders" that need to be driven out?

Actions - Links
Amnesty International works to protect human rights around the world. At their web site you can take various actions to promote human rights and speak up for those whose rights have been denied. Go to: www.amnesty.org and www.amnestyusa.org

Prayer - Meditation
Find two prayers for justice at: www.invitationtoprayer.org/prayers_justice.html

One is:
Grant us, Lord God, a vision of our land as your love would make it:
- a land where the weak are protected, and none go hungry or poor;
- a land where the benefits of civilised life are shared, and everyone can enjoy them;
- a land where different races and cultures live in tolerance and mutual respect;
- a land where peace is built with justice, and justice is guided by love.
And give us the inspiration and courage to build it, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Type of content: Lectionary Reflections