In today’s first reading we have a description of what has come to be known as “The Ten Commandments”, these were given to the people of Israel after they accepted God’s offer of a Covenant. When we examine the ten Commandments and apply them to ourselves, they describe three encounters in our lives.
The first one is an encounter with God, these relate to the Commandments to have no gods except God Our Father, not to make carved images, which could be worshipped, not to take God’s name in vain and to keep the Sabbath as a special day, dedicated to the Lord. All of these commandments focus on mankind’s relationship with God. As Christians we worship the one true God, but through our attachments to other things are we in danger of inadvertently worshipping modern-day idols? Does my passion for football and my love of my favourite team ever border on worship? What activities do I have that prevent me from spending quality time with God? For me this would be the things I use to distract me, my phone or computer, watching sport. How do I keep the Sabbath special? By spending time at Church, praying, serving our Community, however, there are times when I have gone shopping after Mass, in these days where most things can be ordered online and the shops are open late every other day; do I really need to shop on a Sunday?
The next group of commandments are about how we encounter other people. First of all, we are to honour our parents, we are not to kill, we are not to commit adultery, not to steal and not to lie about our neighbour. In these commandments we have a blueprint for harmonious relationships with the people we encounter in everyday life. How do I obey these commandments? Do I remember the words of Jesus in relation to these commandments from Matthew 5:20-32 where Jesus applied a higher standard to the Commandments equating getting angry with someone with the commandment not to kill; and the looking lustfully at someone with committing adultery. Jesus wants us to recognise our sins and to make piece with those we have offended as well as to forgive those who have offended us. I can get angry very quickly; it is something which I need to work on, and I need to look at where this anger comes from and identify who I need to apologise to and seek forgiveness from.
The third encounter is an encounter with ourself, this is about how we think and how these thoughts can lead to breaking some of the other commandments; especially those which affect our relationships with our neighbour. We are not to covet; covet means to long for or wish to take possession of; these are sins which occur within, but as Jesus pointed out in Mark 7:14-16 it is from evil thoughts, which can lead us to sin. In this area I can sometimes feel sorry for myself, thinking that other people have a ‘better deal’ in life, that their life is less complicated than mine. I need to learn to accept my life and work on the aspects which I need to change; I need to stop comparing myself with others and remember that God made me the way I am; God has given me gifts, which He expects me to use, just as He expects others to use the gifts He has given them. Their gifts are not better than mine as all gifts come from God, our gifts just happen to be different; because the mission God has for each one of us, is different.
There are many guides available to help us examine our conscience in accordance with the 10 Commandments, I have attached some links to this reflection to help both adults and children to review our sins before we enter into the Sacrament of Reconciliation.12
In today’s second reading St Paul gives comfort to those who may be ridiculed for believing in the Risen Christ; he states that the Jews demand miracles (yet in Jesus’ time they questioned the source of His miracles), the Greeks demand wisdom and think that speaking of a Risen Christ as being madness. But St Paul points out that “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”
In today’s Gospel we have the familiar story of when Jesus drove out the money changers and market stalls which had become established within the walls of the temple. Jesus was indignant that these people were turning His Father’s house into a market place, probably with the permission and patronage of the High Priests. Jesus, like the prophets before Him, disturbed the norm. Jesus did not come to ‘lord it over us’; he came to serve and this is an example of Jesus being a man of action; he was not going to stand back idly and complain.
Jesus witnessed something which offended Him and His disciples remembered the words of Scripture (Psalm 69:9) that “zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then asked for a sign and Jesus, foretelling His Passion said He would destroy the sanctuary, which had taken forty-six years to build and raise it up in three days. This was how Jesus would tear down the old Covenant and establish our New Covenant. This New Covenant opened up the path for all men and women to be called to follow Jesus and become the new Chosen People. We are people of the new Covenant, the Covenant of the Risen Christ.
The cleansing of the temple in preparation for the Passion of Christ is an example for us during this Lenten Season to cleanse ourselves, to avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, preparing ourselves properly for the Banquet of the Lamb.
This week, as we journey further into Lent, I pray that God will give you the perseverance to continue with your Lenten fasting. Last week I suggested some quotes from Saints to ponder upon each day. This week I offer some short Bible passages to meditate on; these are the passages used in the Evening Prayers of the Divine Office on these days next week, by meditating on them you can join the priests and deacons who serve us, in their daily prayer.
I would like to end with a short update on the Walk for Water challenge, as I write this on Thursday evening, I have just gone through the 200,000 steps on day 16. Some days it has been relatively straight forward, but inevitably other days have been difficult as most of my working day is spent on video calls for work. So far you have helped me to raise £1372 for Cafod, with more than half of Lent still to go. I thank each and every one of you for this and I thank God that I live in a place where it takes me seconds to get water from the tap in my house. The people we are trying to help have to walk for hours; taking up most of their day to get water to keep their family alive. May God bless them and guide the Cafod teams towards them.
I wish you all a blessed week.
Please keep in your prayers this week
- All the volunteers and staff providing the vaccinations to our Communities.
- That wealthier countries will recognise it is essential to support poorer countries by sharing the Covid Vaccinations to all mankind.
- Kahleesi and her family, as she joins the Christian family through Baptism this weekend at St Bede’s.
- For all those taking part in the Walk for Water campaign, that we all have the strength to overcome any physical ailments.
- For those suffering from Domestic abuse in our local area that they will have the strength and courage to seek support
- For those who do not believe in God, that this Lent and Easter will open their eyes to the magnificent wonder of our Creator.
- For all those taking part in the online Alpha course, as this week they look at how God guides us.
- For the success of the RCIA course next Wednesday, that all those attending will gain an understanding and develop a love for the Sacraments of the Church.
- Pope Francis, as he approaches the eighth anniversary of his election as Pope.
If you would like to sponsor me, please go to Deacon Tony’s Walk for Water Challenge | Walk for Water | CAFOD
All donations are greatly appreciated and as always if you are unable to financially support me or the others taking part your prayers are very welcome.
Deacon Tony Darroch, 4th March 2021.
Some Scripture passages to help us with Lent this week.
- Sunday – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
- Monday – Romans 12:1-2
- Tuesday – James 2:14,17-18
- Wednesday – Philippians 2:12-15
- Thursday – James 4:7-8,10
- Friday – James 5:16, 19-20
- Saturday – 2 Corinthians 6:1-4
1 Children’s Examination of Conscience available from Microsoft Word – An Examination of Conscience for Children Using the 10 Commandments.doc (johnpaul2center.org) accessed 4th March 2021.
2 Adult’s Examination of Conscience available from Examination of Conscience from the 10 Commandments – CatholicShare.com accessed 4th March 2021.