Third Sunday of Lent, 10 Commandments, a Homily

Homily, Mar 07-08, 2015: Cycle B, Third Sunday of Lent

When NASA sent up the first moon rocket, they did not just roll it out to the launch pad, take careful aim, and then light the fuse. From the first moment after liftoff, a feedback loop began to take measurements of the rocket’s actual position with respect to its ultimate destination.

Periodically sampling that feedback loop, a series of mid-course corrections brought the rocket to the exact position necessary to enter Lunar orbit. Sorry, I don’t mean for this to sound like Science 101. I am not Bill Nye the Science Guy.

My point is that we use that same process for any project we undertake. We know where we want to end up, so we review where we are over the course of the projects life & make the necessary corrections to arrive at our desired endpoint.

On Ash Wednesday, a few weeks ago, we “launched our Lenten Journey” that would lead us to Holy Week and Easter Sunday with a new appreciation.

We hoped the process would help us improve our relationship with the Lord, give us a better understanding of ourselves, and what we need to do to improve

On this Third Sunday of Lent, we are at the halfway point of our Lenten Journey. It’s time to check our feedback loop and see how we are doing. How are we progressing on our journey?

Our readings today actually give us considerable help. The First Reading from the Book of Exodus details the Ten Commandments that Moses brought down from the mountain. Scholars tell us they are very similar to the Code of Hammurabi originating from Babylonian Laws of ancient Mesopotamia.

For us as Christians, the Ten Commandments are basic tenets that we should all have pretty much under control in our lives as we grow in maturity. If not, that’s a good starting point.

Jesus calls us to even more than those basics; He calls us to higher order considerations in how we live our lives. For instance, the Commandments tell us we should not commit adultery, but Jesus tells us that a man should not even look at a woman that way.

Our Second Reading from First Corinthians tells us that the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. A few verses later, we read that God often uses the weak and the foolish to confound the strong and the wise.

All of that is a lead-in to the concept of Poverty of Spirit, which is accepting our true worth, no more – no less. It means not trying to appear to others as if we are stronger or wiser, than we really are.

Obviously, we should work hard to be the very best we can be with the gifts God has given us, but not work hard at all trying to appear to be more than we are.

Human nature often makes us worry about how others see us. But in fact, we should embrace our true Poverty of Spirit and resist that desire to be Rich in Spirit. If we do not, the desert fathers tell us over time we may face anxiety as the harbinger of that “out of place” desire.

So, at this midpoint in our Lenten Journey, where do we stand with respect to that whole concept of Poverty of Spirit. Are we prone to attempt to impress others? Do we prefer the company of “special people” to the company of ordinary people, thinking that somehow elevates us?

Remember, as Christians, we emulate Jesus Christ and He dealt with the poorest of the poor, and died the most agonizing, humiliating death for us.

He could have used His strength to be Rich in Spirit and come down from the cross and confound His tormentors. But, He chose to accept the depths and the dregs of His humanity to save us humans.

As we heard in our Gospel today, Jesus chased those who were selling the animals of sacrifice & the money changers from the temple. The man of peace, by all measures, seemed to be quite zealous for the temple.

We might ask ourselves what are we zealous about. What wrongs do we stand against? What is our cause?

Last week, at this podium, one of the Sisters of Life spoke to us about their Right to Life ministry including ministry to women who were trying to overcome the emotional pain and devastation of having had an abortion.

What really caught my attention was how she spoke about the healing power of the ‘feeling of being chosen.’ Just treating others as if they are special enough for us to choose them as our friends can engender healing within them, because it brings them face to face with a human face of an all-loving God.

Wow, how is that for a ministry? How is that for a cause to be zealous about? That certainly takes a lot of time, patience, effort, and sacrifice. I bet the rewards are few and far in-between.

Perhaps, at this halfway point in our Lenten Journey we can redouble our efforts if we have fallen behind. We can still look for ways to sacrifice ourselves for the good of others, our families, and our friends.

We, too, can demonstrate with our own lives our desire to make Christ present to others in this world by our thoughts and our actions.

To that end I would like to leave you with a quote about Lent from Pope Francis: He recently stated that when we fast, others should benefit directly from our fast.  Make sure that the food from which we fast or the money that we would have used to purchase it, finds its way to a person with no food.