Third Sunday of Lent (1st March 2021)

Readings: Ex. 20: 1-17.  1Cor 1:22-25  John 2:13-25.

Reading today’s Lectionary offerings, the lines that most drew my attention were from Paul to the Corinthians. In his rather rueful remark it is as if Paul stands back and sees how absurd his preaching seems, and we are reminded of just how inconceivable the message is. To the Jews,  expecting an all-conquering Messiah, a God of mighty deeds like those of old; to the Greeks, valuing rational understanding and wise sayings; Paul is offering Christ – a crucified criminal – confusion, weakness and failure personified. And the message is still extraordinary, even for ‘those who have been called’.

It is a mighty leap to see, or rather to accept without seeing in the crucified Christ the power and wisdom of God. Despite being called and graced there may still be in all of us something of the Jew, looking for a strong triumphant God, and the Greek, seeking intellectual satisfaction, and quite a lot of the Peter who refused to think of such a thing. Familiarity with the words has taken some of the edge off the wonder of it and softened the shock. We have to keep on rediscovering it until we really accept that – and how – this foolishness of God is wiser than wise and God’s failure more powerful than human ‘success’. It challenges us and always will. We can never get our heads around the Crucifixion, much less the Resurrection. We don’t have to – understanding and acceptance don’t come from the head but from a far deeper part of us.  Only there can we find faith.

Today’s gospel reminds me that the Resurrection is behind and permeates every page of the gospels. I get the impression that the whole reason for recounting this incident in the Temple is the opportunity it gives to repeat the promise of Resurrection.

As Jesus journeys to Jerusalem, crucifixion and resurrection, a good way to journey with him through Lent might be to try, through deep reflection and contemplation, to get a deeper understanding of the meaning and a greater appreciation of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  We can never come anywhere near exhausting the significance for us, for our relationship with God in Christ, and for all creation.

Sr.  Genevieve Mooney  OP 

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