Liturgy of the Sunday

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Third Sunday of Lent


First Reading

Exodus 20,1-17

Then God spoke all these words. He said, 'I am Yahweh your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you lived as slaves. 'You shall have no other gods to rival me. 'You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth. 'You shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God and I punish a parent's fault in the children, the grandchildren, and the great-grandchildren among those who hate me; but I act with faithful love towards thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. 'You shall not misuse the name of Yahweh your God, for Yahweh will not leave unpunished anyone who misuses his name. 'Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. For six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath for Yahweh your God. You shall do no work that day, neither you nor your son nor your daughter nor your servants, men or women, nor your animals nor the alien living with you. For in six days Yahweh made the heavens, earth and sea and all that these contain, but on the seventh day he rested; that is why Yahweh has blessed the Sabbath day and made it sacred. 'Honour your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land that Yahweh your God is giving you. 'You shall not kill. 'You shall not commit adultery. 'You shall not steal. 'You shall not give false evidence against your neighbour. 'You shall not set your heart on your neighbour's house. You shall not set your heart on your neighbour's spouse, or servant, man or woman, or ox, or donkey, or any of your neighbour's possessions.'

Psalmody

Psalm 18

Antiphon

The word of the Lord is pure and everlasting.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God
and the firmament shows forth the work of his hands.

Day unto day takes up the story
and night unto night makes known the message.

No speech, no word,
no voice is heard

yet their span extends through all the earth,
their words to the utmost bounds of the world.

There he has placed a tent for the sun;
it comes forth like a bridegroom coming from his tent,
rejoices like a champion to run its course.

At the end of the sky is the rising of the sun;
to the furthest end of the sky is its course.
There is nothing concealed from its burning heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,
it revives the soul.

The rule of the Lord is to be trusted,
it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right,
they gladden the heart.

The command of the Lord is clear,
it gives light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is holy, abiding for ever.
The decrees of the Lord are truth and all of them just.

They are more to be desired than gold, than the purest of gold
and sweeter are they than honey, than honey from the comb.

So in them your servant finds instruction;
great reward is in their keeping.

But who can detect all his errors?
From hidden faults acquit me.

From presumption restrain your servant
and let it not rule me.

Then shall I be blameless,
clean from grave sin.

May the spoken words of my mouth,
the thoughts of my heart,

win favour in your sight, O Lord,
my rescuer, my rock!

Second Reading

1 Corinthians 1,22-25

While the Jews demand miracles and the Greeks look for wisdom, we are preaching a crucified Christ: to the Jews an obstacle they cannot get over, to the gentiles foolishness, but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, a Christ who is both the power of God and the wisdom of God. God's folly is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.

Reading of the Gospel

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

John 2,13-25

When the time of the Jewish Passover was near Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and in the Temple he found people selling cattle and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting there. Making a whip out of cord, he drove them all out of the Temple, sheep and cattle as well, scattered the money changers' coins, knocked their tables over and said to the dove sellers, 'Take all this out of here and stop using my Father's house as a market.' Then his disciples remembered the words of scripture: I am eaten up with zeal for your house. The Jews intervened and said, 'What sign can you show us that you should act like this?' Jesus answered, 'Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' The Jews replied, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple: are you going to raise it up again in three days?' But he was speaking of the Temple that was his body, and when Jesus rose from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and what he had said. During his stay in Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he did, but Jesus knew all people and did not trust himself to them; he never needed evidence about anyone; he could tell what someone had within.

 

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Homily

"The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem." This is how the Gospel passage starts, as if reminding us not to get distracted. Rather it urges us to join the group of disciples accompanying Jesus and to ask ourselves about our Lenten path till today. It is easy also for us to slow down our pace and get far from the Lord's thoughts. Every time our ego prevails, we distance ourselves from the Lord and from his brothers and sisters. But the Gospel returns to speak to us, to shows us the path to follow and to keep us in listening to Jesus. The evangelist John presents to us Jesus first trip to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover there. The scene of chasing out the sellers from the temple manifests Jesus' jealousy, as the prophet wrote: "Zeal for your house devours me." It is a Jesus particularly hard and resolute; he well knows that in a temple where these small transactions are accepted, it can get to the point that even the life of a man can be sold for a mere thirty silver pieces. But what is the market that scandalizes Jesus?
There is another market we need to focus on; it is that which happens in our hearts. It is a market that scandalizes the Lord Jesus even more because the heart is the true temple in which God wants to dwell. Such a market has to do with the way one conceives and conducts one's life. How often life is reduced to a long and mean buying and selling process, no longer with gratuitous love! Starting from ourselves, how many times we need to admit the becoming rare of gratuitousness, generosity, benevolence, mercy, forgiveness and grace! The iron law of self-interest, or that of the group or nation, seems to inexorably preside over human life. We are all, someone more someone less, busy dealing for ourselves and our advantage and we do not care if in this way the poisonous grass of arrogance, insatiability and voraciousness grow. What counts and values is one's own personal gain, at any cost.
Jesus once again enters into our life, as he entered the temple, and turns this primacy upside down; he throws up in the air the little benches of our petty interests and reaffirms God's absolute primacy. It is the zeal that Jesus has for each one of us, for our heart, for our life, that it might open to receive God. It is his jealousy for us! The Gospel becomes like the whip which Jesus uses to change our hearts and lives. Even more, every time that small book is opened it chases the attachment to ourselves from the hearts of those who listen to it and it upsets our tenacious pursuing our own business in every possible way. The Gospel is the "double-edged sword" of which the apostle Paul speaks that cuts till the marrow in order to separate us from evil.