Brett Fawcett

WORD MADE FLESH

Third Sunday in Lent – March 8, 2015
Exodus 20.1-17 | Psalm 19 | 1 Corinthians 1.18, 22-25 | John 2.13-25
February 23, 2015

It's easy to get to a point where we start to hear without hearing. How many times do we hear or recite the Our Father or the Hail Mary without paying attention to the fact that we're uttering meaningful words and not just a series of familiar, vaguely pleasant syllables?

Perhaps the Ten Commandments, which we hear recited in today's First Reading, also falls into this category; how often do we stop and really read and reflect on those oft-heard ordinances when we see them hanging on a wall (usually on a poster in the shape of two tablets)?

If we do ever stop and think about them, what is our reaction?

If you're having trouble with this, consider honestly: When you have the urge to flip off an inconsiderate driver from your car, do you stop yourself with a bit of a grumble and a sigh because you're "not supposed to"?

The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. – Psalm 19.8

'The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.'

Psalm 19.8

When you're tempted to lie to get yourself out of an awkward or boring conversation, do you only reluctantly restrain yourself because lying is "against the rules"?

To be fair, as long as we are afflicted with concupiscence, fulfilling the moral law will always have an element of difficulty.

Still, we should seriously consider the joyful song of the psalmist today in praise of God's laws: He calls them "refreshing," "rejoicing the heart," "more desirable than gold" and "sweeter than honey."

We might find this attitude puzzling. We might appreciate that "Thou shalt not steal," but does that commandment invigorate and excite us?

Our problem may be that we are simply not listening carefully enough. The Ten Commandments aren't just meant to tell us what not to do, or even how to "become a good person."

In a deeper sense, they reveal to us the inmost character of our loving Father, the imitation of which is the pathway to life. This is dramatically illustrated in the Gospel account of Jesus tearing through the Temple area, flinging tables and spilling coins.

John says Jesus was "consumed" with "zeal" for his Father's house: He was the living embodiment of the psalmist's attitude toward the Law.

For him, "thou shalt not steal" meant, not just that we shouldn't forcibly take other people's property unjustly, but that we should respect other people's right to worship God in peace.

"Thou shalt not steal" meant, in a deeper sense, "do not rob others of their dignity." He had penetrated to the deeper meaning of the Decalogue, the revelation of the Father's heart.

There is a good rule of thumb here. If ever you find something in Scripture or in the Church's teachings that seems confusing or uninspiring, before simply dismissing it, stop and prayerfully think about what it reveals about the character of God - and, once you see God revealed in it, the Spirit may make it "sweeter than honey" for you.