My Sisters and Brothers!
As we listen to the Word of God for this Third Sunday of Lent first we are given a passage from the Book of Exodus about the Ten Commandments then the Gospel of John takes us to the place which doesn’t exist anymore: The Temple in Jerusalem. That magnificent Temple was built for a purpose. Do you know the purpose? What was to be hosted there? The Ark of the Covenant which contained the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God the Almighty. Those crowds St John talks about at the Passover in the Holy City would never have a glimpse of the Ark of the Covenant as only the Highest Priest was allowed to enter that Most Sacred chamber and only once a year. However all those pilgrims knew very well what was in that chamber, they knew each single word written on those two tablets. So what did they come for? The first thing to remind themselves that those Commandments weren’t of a human origin, that they were given by God. Those commandments weren’t invented by a clever thinker but they came from the Loving God who wants preserve the best in his sons and daughters. Another reason for those people to come to the Temple was to ask God for his help to take those commandments home, to live them, to allow the Ten Commandments to shape the people of God.
By the way, for Passover feast a hundred thousand people would turn up to Jerusalem while the city population was around 60 thousand. To put it in perspective, imagine our city of Melbourne with 4.4 million people welcoming 6 million visitors for a couple of weeks. We would be stuck. Don’t you think? How many rules or restrictions would need to be placed on people to handle the crowds? We would need a leader with a vision and perseverance to unite all those people. The Ten Commandments remind us not simply what we need to do to preserve and develop the best of us, our relationship with God, but the Ten Commandments remind us that God is the our leader who has a vision and perseverance to accomplish his purpose in us. As we read in our second reading from the First Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians: “For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”
To finish this homily I would like to tell you of a situation from France. I think that most of you have heard of “Charlie Hebdo” and how many leaders of the nations united themselves to defend what they called freedom of speech. Personally I find it hard to call what the magazine does freedom of speech when they abuse what is precious and sacred to another human being. I don’t want to go into this discussion right now but what I want to tell you is that last year a movie was to be released in France the title is L'Apôtre – the Apostle. It is the story of a Muslim man who converted to the Christian faith. The movie was stopped from screening by French authorities because it was to upset the Muslim people while at the same time the French leaders were walking with labels “Je suis Charlie” supporting the magazine which keeps publishing the most offensive pictures. From those people you hear that what God teaches us doesn’t make sense.
“God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”