Third Sunday in Lent

This past Sunday was the third Sunday in Lent (the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, not counting Sundays). The gospel lesson for that Sunday records Jesus cleansing the temple at the beginning of John’s gospel, soon after we are told that the Word became flesh and tabernacle among us. What happens when the two temples meet? Jesus IS the Word of God in the flesh; His body IS THE temple of the Holy Spirit who conceived Him in Mary and dwells in Him. When Jesus comes to the temple of stone, made by human hands He finds it filled with other evil of human construction – trade for filthy profit. So Jesus drives it all out in order to make the physical space serve God’s intent, that any temple, like every human body, should be a house of prayer for and on behalf of all nations (and NOT a den of thieves). But that was then and this is now?

God intends for our bodies to be temples for the Holy Spirit, where the Word of God regenerates the soul and inspires us to faithful stewardship and ambassadorship. What is going on inside of you and me? What kind of trading, buying, and selling is going on in our hearts and minds? What kind of selfish thinking inflates our vanities or distresses our ego? Jesus would drive it all out, replacing it with the peace of God that passes all understanding.

The Old Testament lesson from last Sunday is Exodus 20 – the Ten Commandments – which Jesus summarized in just two; love God above all and your neighbor (even enemy) as yourself. What happens when love of God and neighbor is what fills our thoughts?

The Epistle lesson was from 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 which reminds us that the power and will of God is folly and a stumbling block for corrupt human nature. Why would powerful people and favored people give away their advantages only to surrender to suffering and death as One bearing all the disfavor of God? The Son of God/son of Mary did that in order to restore our life to us – a life that is realized and experienced as His Word and Spirit make our bodies living temples, actively hearing His Word and sharing that Word with others.

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