3rd Sunday of Lent
Jesus’ very presence is cleansing. One way of describing sin is to say that where Jesus is not – sin is. Sin is in those parts of our life, of my priesthood, of your marriage, of our work, of our friendships, our relaxation of our daily lives where Jesus is not invited, where he is excluded. If there is a part of our life like that Alarm bells should ring.
When we were baptised we were changed, we became a new creation, capable of something new, capable of reaching heaven. Baptism enables us to know and love Jesus, enables us to live guided by the Holy Spirit and grow in virtue and holiness. We became members of Christ’s body, the Church, united to him in a new way so that through him and in him we live. Once baptised, to exclude Christ from part of our lives isn’t just to fail to become what can be, it is to damage what we are. The full implications of this are clear in the teaching on mortal sin. If deliberately and knowing what we are doing we commit a serious sin it can destroy that life of grace in us and mean we are no longer capable of reaching heaven. Only God in the Sacrament of confession can repair such damage.
The 10 commandments, fully revealed and perfected in Christ are like a description of what we have become. We know God, we are spiritual and physical, we are truthful, honest, we cherish life and creation, we acknowledge the mystery and gift of human sexuality, we reveal in all our thoughts and actions that love which Christ has revealed for us. In the light of Christ the 10 commandments call us on every level of our existence to examine our consciences. In all I say and do and think is Jesus there? Am I in love with him?
An examination of conscience is difficult for many reasons – it is seen as foolish by the world and it is still a stumbling block to many Catholics – it means effort, discomfort, critical honesty, accepting that I am not always right; it calls for change and sacrifice. One big difficulty is knowing that if we let Jesus enter some of the darker areas of our life the effect will be dramatic and unnerving – like the cleansing of the temple – and faced with it we would be forced to make a decision. We could not remain neutral.
To take that step is something we often think about but all to often hold back from doing.. Lent gives us the chance to do it bit by bit, through our prayer, penance and alms giving. But it also encourages us to take that big step as we moved towards Holy Week and Easter.
Give us a sign we can ask with the amazed bystanders in the temple. “Destroy this temple” says Jesus “and in 3 days I will raise it up”. Let us pray for each other that we might take that big step this Lent