Exodus 3: 1-2, 7-8, 12-17 – 1 Corinthians 1: 22-25 – John 2: 13-26
Although we may be familiar with the Ten Commandments which we heard today, it is a common observation that they are negative in their tone – a lot of “Thou shall not. . .” In reality, however, they are quite liberating. They present to us a simple and basic code for living. They are also the third step in the development of a covenant relationship between God and humanity. The covenant with Noah marked a new beginning to creation.. The covenant with Abraham established a new people. This covenant developed a relationship between God and a Chosen People, a people of the Law, a people of the Commandments.
Through Moses, God was re-affirming the covenant, the agreement, by which the Lord, God, would be the God of this People, and this People would be in a particular relationship with God. There was no mystery in this relationship between God and this People. It would not belike the relationship that existed with pagan gods whose will had to be discerned from the guts of animals, or who interacted with their followers in ways that were often mysterious and strange.
The relationship between God and God’s people was described in a simple and straightforward way. These commandments, these directives for living, were to be followed. God was to be acknowledged and worshiped. Others, creations of God, were to be respected in their lives and in their possessions. Be faithful to them, and God will be faithful in return. It is truly that simple.
But we know that we often complicate these matters. As we came to know what the words of the Commandments meant and the expectations they held out and as we grew older and left behind the innocence of out First Confessions, we realized how easily we could be tempted to put things before God in our lives. We easily disregarded God, the worship and honor of God, God’s name, God’s role in our lives. Further, we were easily tempted to lie, to ridicule, to cheat, to hurt, to hate, to lust, to want what was not ours – all the various spin-offs of these simple commandments.
In the midst of this Season of Lent we are reminded of these Commandments which govern the relationship between God an ourselves, as well as God’s people. Along with this reminder we heard the account of Jesus cleansing the Temple He acted to rid what profaned its sacredness and, at the same time, using this opportunity to point to the restoration achieved by his Resurrection.
What we heard today calls on us, as we use this Season of Lent as a time prepare to celebrate Easter, to review the terms of our relationship with God. We are to cleanse ourselves of what profanes the sacredness that is ours as children of our Heavenly Father. We are to confess our failings and be absolved. This we do so that when we renew the promises of our baptisms, we will do so with a strength and faith founded on a genuine commitment to our good and gracious God.