Third Sunday of Lent | Year B

Posted on marzo 1, 2024 View all Gospel Reflection

Our First Reading lists the Ten Commandments:

“You shall not carve idols for yourselves.”

E.g. Egyptian sun temples were ancient temples to the sun god Ra, which was a carved idol and prohibited by the First Commandment.  There is a joke that Ra is the patron of Cheerleaders: “RaRaRa!”

The Jewish Temple had both statues and art which is what God wants in Exodus 2, including two carved gold angels (Exodus 25:18). Ancient Jewish underground cemeteries had artwork of menorahs, the shofar or the ram’s horn trumpet, the ark, floral and geometric shapes, depictions of animals and human beings, etc. So, “No; Catholics don’t worship statues!”

Although this 1st Commandment is against polytheism, an idol can be the almighty dollar or any person. Food can become an idol, not just food offered to idols as Paul says in 1 Cor. 8 but food itself if it’s what we live for; something that controls us in overindulgence. Regular exercise can be one of the best decisions someone can make but for some, especially maybe the unchurched, exercise is worship.

An idol is whatever we elevate above God or give to God’s rightful place in our life especially if it keeps one from daily prayer.

We were made to crave, as Author Lisa TerKeurst, says, adding, “What would happen if you started listening to your cravings instead of trying to silence them?”1  As Catholic Christians, we know that only the bread of life in the Eucharist and daily prayer is really going to fill the place in our hearts where idols would want to be.

9th and 10th Commandments: You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife nor your neighbor’s property. Coveting is sinful desire. It is stealthy because these two Commandments have to do with the intentions of the heart and stopping at the root, emotional level, the Catechism says (2534) to prevent desiring another person’s spouse or property.

Breaking these two commandments can lead to other sins such as lust, adultery, theft, and murder. Coveting is when you desire something unlawfully, that lawfully belongs to someone else. If I had his money. Remember, coveting resulted in King David’s grievous failing with another man’s wife.

You can remember this two-word mantra against coveting: “limit acquisitiveness.”2

One last thing is whether anger is a sin—Jesus was non-violent but he did do some civil disobedience in our Gospel passage today.

The temple is symbolic of the human person per 1 Corinthians 6:19. What is the shape of the temple of our soul? A little housecleaning? 

“What if Jesus made a whip out of cords, knotted them with the Ten Commandments. What would he clear out of you?

Jesus made a whip to drive out the animals —the sheep and cattle— not people. People did get a tongue-lashing, but no people were struck.3

Jesus was angry. Anger is an emotion which itself is neither good nor evil, the Catechism teaches us in no. 1767. It’s only a sin by reason of excess or defect.

When anger is only managed on a symptom level it remains unresolved and tends to resurface. When that happens, you’re more likely to overreact.4

However, no one enjoys being around a person, who at slightest provocation or none at all, is liable to flare up and shower one with angry words. If you tend to be quick tempered, try to hold back your words by saying an Our Father before speaking. If you fail in this, say the prayer after your outburst but only after you have said I am sorry.5

1.Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food; Lysa TerKeurst, 12/15/2010

2. Journey to the Common Good, Walter Brueggemann, cited by Liz Cooledge Jenkins, The Christian Century, Oct 23

3. Clayton N. Croy, The messianic whippersnapper, Journal of Biblical Literature, 128 no 3 Fall 2009, p 555-568

4. The Goodness of Anger; By Charles Russell Psy.D.

5. Mujana Darian, Thoughts to take home for Lent, Franciscan Herald Press, 1973, pg. 59