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Third Sunday of Lent – Cleansing of our hearts

Lent season, Holy week and Good friday concept. Palm leave and cross on purple background.

By Msgr Michael de Verteuil

Chair of the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission

On this Sunday there is a choice of readings, either those of Year B or Year A. The Year A readings are usually used when a parish has The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) candidates for Baptism as the readings are more clearly linked to Baptism, the preparation for which is one of the themes of Lent.

Year B

The First Reading (Ex 20:1–17) is of the Ten Commandments. This was the result of the Covenant God offered Moses. On the First Sunday, we read of the covenant with Noah, the Second of the covenant with Abraham. We have these readings because we are preparing for Easter when some will be baptised thus entering God’s covenanted people and most of us will be renewing our commitment to the Covenant when we renew our baptismal promises. The Ten Commandments remind us that as a covenanted people, we are called to live a certain way. Let us examine our consciences and repent where necessary.

The Second Reading (1 Cor 1:22–25) holds up for us the great paradox of the Crucifixion. Jesus, Son of God, who was all good, suffers and dies on the Cross and yet this is a triumph:  “…preaching a crucified Christ …….   a Christ who is the power and wisdom of God. God’s foolishness is greater than human wisdom ….’

The Gospel (Jn 2:13–25) is the story of the cleansing of the Temple in which Jesus drives all the merchants out. This purifying action of Jesus can be seen as a call to the cleansing of our hearts and lives in this Lenten period – all the distractions, sinful habits, selfishness that attempt to take over our lives.

Just as the merchants were where they should not have been, neither should anything sinful be in our lives. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a wonderful agent of cleansing of any ways in which we have not loved God and neighbour and we should make use of it this Lent.