Third Sunday of Lent: March 7, 2021
OTHER GODS (Exodus 20:1-17)
We believe in one God. But it wasn’t always that way. At the time of Moses, people believed in many gods. There were gods who governed the weather, gods who controlled illnesses, and gods who inspired the arts. But we believe in one God, the source of all creation and the sustainer of all that is good.
The first commandment asked people to stop offering allegiance to other gods. It asserted the supreme authority of the one God who led them out of slavery and promised them a new land.
When we review the Ten Commandments, we usually skip over number one. We don’t believe in other gods. It’s two through ten that cause problems. We curse and swear. We skip church on Sundays. We disobey. We destroy life, even human life. We commit adultery. We steal, and we lie. We covet everything about our neighbor’s possessions and family. We sin a lot on two through ten. But we believe in one God.
Or do we? Do we substitute other gods? Do we prefer possessions, selfish pleasures, and the esteem of others more than we prefer allegiance to the one God? That first commandment may be the root of all our sin
THE FOLLY OF THE CROSS (1 Corinthians 1:22–25)
Everyone wants to be wise and powerful. Many people spend the first part of their lives gaining wisdom in school and the rest of their lives gaining power at work. Wisdom and power are the goals we seek.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians that some people seek demonstrations of power and others look for wisdom. Everyone looks for something to make sense of life, and even in Paul’s day, power and wisdom were highly treasured.
But what Paul had to offer was something else. “We proclaim Christ crucified,” he said. Not just Christ—but Christ crucified. If you are looking for signs of power, you won’t find them in someone put to death on a cross. If you look for wisdom, you don’t find it in someone whose teachings cost him his life. Or do you?
Paul says, “Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.” Through the cross, God revealed the power of the Resurrection. Through the cross, God showed the wisdom of sacrifice. The cross was a message that the Corinthians struggled to grasp.
As do we. We keep seeking power and wisdom from other sources: drugs, pornography, greed, and violence. But to accept the cross is to stand by one’s principles, to speak up for the lowly, and to sacrifice for others. That cross is the wisdom and power of God. That is the cross of Lent.
Reflections: Lectionary Bulletin Inserts: Reflections on the First and Second Readings, Year B© 2019 Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications. All rights reserved. Written by Paul Turner. Lectionary for Mass © 2001, CCD.