Gospel Reflection – Homily for Sunday, March 3, 2024

Gospel Reflection – Homily for Sunday, March 3, 2024
Gospel Reflection – Homily for Sunday, March 3, 2024

Many believed in his name

Dear brothers, peace and good.

We have left behind the desert (the temptations, first week of Lent) and the mountain (the Transfiguration, second week of Lent). Today the Liturgy gives us the Commandments, which, surely, we have known since we were little. Accustomed to studying them in succession, perhaps we have become accustomed to having them in the background, as something that is good, but that does not affect us too much. Totally, neither robbery, nor murder, nor “nothing at all”, as some say when confessing.

We forget that the Commandments must be understood from their origin: the memory of slavery in Egypt, liberation and the desire to live according to rules that allow us to constitute a society different from the Egyptian one. Without Pharaoh, and with God. Without slavery, and with freedom. Without inequalities, and with equality. Without death, and with life. Society, the world that God wants for everyone. It is no longer a catalog of serious sins to avoid, as many think.

In reality, the Commandments, although some think otherwise, are still in force. All. Jesus, far from repealing them, comes to give them meaning and fullness. They are a very good way to contrast our lifestyle with what God wants from us. The ten. Here there is no possibility of choosing, as if it were a restaurant menu. I like this one, this one not so much… They all affect everyone. From the Pope to the last of the grandmothers in a parish lost at the end of the world.

This first reading reminds us that for Israel there should only be one God. He also says those words of the Lord to his people today to each of us. The “little gods” that the world can offer us cannot be the ones who direct our lives. It is true that they seem very attractive, but neither money nor pleasure nor power bring true happiness. The only God, who manifested himself in the person of Jesus Christ, is the one who must direct our existence, configure our values, and give meaning to our lives. This is the true and eternal covenant that God has made with us, sealed with the blood of his Son, so that we may be faithful to the end.

We know that Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments in two, to love God above all things and your neighbor as yourself (Mt 22, 33-34.) Perhaps that is why it would be good, before learning – or teaching – the Decalogue by heart. , learn to feel the love of God, talk about it and preach it more often. Loving, it seems, is the summary of the Commandments. And that love forces us to open our minds, to even be able to love our enemies. And to forgive without limits. And to share our time and our goods with our brothers. Even to die for them. Nothing is expressly said about this in the Ten Commandments, but it is the consequence of the law of Love, with a capital letter. If we must have a heart full of love, like the Father, and if we must give ourselves at all times, who is going to want to steal, deceive, kill, become an adulterer…? All of this goes against the Law of Love.

Many years ago, at a retreat in the monastery of Santa María, in Buenafuente del Sistal, (Guadalajara, Spain), Father Ángel Moreno, chaplain of the monastery, gave me a small card with the Christ who presides over the presbytery and a dedication that said: “The Crucified is the icon of the love of God.” This is what Saint Paul reminds us of today in the second reading. The cross is no longer just a symbol of death, but the sign of love that goes beyond death. Looking at the cross, you can see the love that God has for us.

This mystery of love was not and is not evident to everyone. Some Jews did not see beyond the scandal of death on a cross, reserved for bandits and criminals. The Greeks, more rational, could not understand the death of the Son of God to save all men. And even for some Christians there is still the temptation to want to explain with arguments what can only be explained through faith and love. Nobody likes the cross, but it was necessary to reach the light of the resurrection. There is much to meditate on in this mystery of love.

In the Gospel, we reflect on the temple in Jerusalem during Easter. Surely, it was the time of year when everyone “made August”, with the large number of sacrifices, currency exchanges and visitors in need of accommodation that filled the city. Given the volume of business, it seems that there was nothing sacred. Neither inside nor outside the temple.

While nothing happened to the Jews, Jesus reacts in a less than peaceful way. The disciples saw that zeal for the house of God devoured Christ. He did a thorough cleaning (the four evangelists pick it up, it must have been something remarkable), he corrected all the excesses, expelling the merchants with blows, even the animals, and took the opportunity to talk about the new temple of his body. The physical space of the temple, which was considered the guarantee of God’s closeness to his people, will no longer be necessary. The need to make a pilgrimage to the holy city to be a good Jew is eliminated. God’s encounter with each of us will no longer happen in a specific place, but in the new temple of the body of the Risen Christ. That Jesus who, after his death, will be resurrected and whom we must worship in spirit and truth. That he is always with us, where two or more are gathered in his name (Mt 18, 20).

If we can meet Christ anywhere, why do we need churches, then? Well, for example, to meet with the community, every Sunday, every time we get together for Mass. To have a quiet place to pray, celebrate the sacraments and remember what God has done for us. A special place of reference for everyone.

Many believed in Him. We, too. But not everyone believed for the right reasons. Some, upon seeing the miracles he performed, paid no attention to anything else. It was enough for them to be able to eat those “miraculous” breads and fish. When the moment of truth arrived, that of going up to Jerusalem, they abandoned him. We also call ourselves Christians, followers of Christ. Do we pay attention to his message, or do we stay external? Do we follow him because he relaxes us, or is it simply a habit, or are we afraid that something will happen to us if we don’t “go to mass”? Adult faith does not require signs, threats or superstitions. The adult in faith is worth the Word of Jesus, and that should lead him to live it intensely in the world and announce it among his brothers.

Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves. It is a great privilege, because he also loves us as we are, and he expects us to be better. Our heart is his house. Today we could ask the Lord to purify our motivations to follow Jesus. May we not fill our house with images that do not represent Christ. May we be able to give less importance to everything that does not allow the growth of the Kingdom. May we free ourselves from the idols that hold us back, be they people, things or disordered affections, so that we can live more as God wants, with more time for an encounter with Christ, and fewer excuses for not doing what He asks of us.

Your brother in faith,
Alejandro, CMF

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