Third Sunday of Lent Year B
7 March 2021
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
I Cor. 1:25
In today’s First Reading (Ex. 20: 1-17), we are given an account of the Covenant between God and Man which is expressed in the Ten Commandments. We are also given an account in today’s Gospel (Jn. 2:13-25) of Jesus in the temple where he overthrows the tables of the money changers because they make His Father’s House a place of business. Matthew, Mark and Luke in their gospel account say: “It is written, ‘My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves.’” (Mt. 21:13) There is in all the scriptures an “analogy of faith” where scriptures relate and complement each other. If we use the Second Reading from St. Paul (I Cor. 1:22-25), we see the key to interpreting the events of today’s readings. St. Paul says: “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Cor. 1:25) Nowadays, it is fashionable and up to date to think that man is essentially his own master. This is not the meaning of St. Paul who ironically calls God’s wisdom foolishness as some enlightened men propose; however what St. Paul is really saying is that God’s “wisdom” and “weakness” are better than men.
God’s Wisdom for Us
The Ten Commandments which God gave to the Jews is His covenant with them. If they obey these laws, they will be blessed, but if they do not obey them, they will be punished. God says that those who disobey His Commandments will have iniquity brought upon his family: “I am the Lord thy God, mighty, jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” (Ex. 20:5) God knows that man is weak and stubborn, and in order to encourage him to be obedient, God must punish and chastise him. To those who love God, He will show great mercy: “And shewing mercy unto thousands (thousandth generation) to them that love me and keep my commandments.” (Ex. 20:6) The Ten Commandments help man to fulfill the natural law which is written on their hearts.
Gospel Message of Intolerance
In today’s Gospel, we see a much different Jesus Christ than anywhere in the gospels. He becomes enraged because men have made the temple a place of business. Pope St. Gregory explains why Jesus was so upset: “That the destruction of the people was in a great part the fault of the priests.” It is they who have permitted the Holy Temple to become a den of thieves. For these blasphemies, the Jews will incur the wrath of God because they did not keep His Commandments. St. Luke has placed the cleansing of the temple after Jesus prophesises about the destruction of Jerusalem. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent to thee, how often would I have gathered thy children as the bird doth her brood under her wings, and thou wouldest not?” (Lk. 13:34) Later, Jesus would prophesy more on Jerusalem’s fate: “These things which you see, the days will come in which there shall not be left a stone upon a stone that shall not be thrown down." (Lk. 21:6) Jesus also gives them a sign of His own death at their hands: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (Jn. 2:19) At the end of today’s Gospel, we see how Jesus does not need man in his wisdom which is (as St. Paul says) “foolishness with God”: “But Jesus did not trust himself unto them, for that he knew all men, and because he needed not that any should give testimony of man: for he knew what was in man.” (Jn. 2: 24-25)
St. Paul in the Second Reading reminds us of the essential gospel message that Jesus has come to save us from our sins. He shows His infinite love and divine wisdom in the Cross. The Jews cannot understand this divine wisdom. For them, a crucified Christ is a stumbling block; they are looking for signs of Jesus’ divine power as the Messiah which would help them to overcome Roman domination, and the Gentiles are looking for human wisdom: “But unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (I Cor. 1:25) This is why Jesus was so enraged in the temple as the Jews were more interested in earthly profits and not in divine wisdom which would help them attain His heavenly kingdom. This is why Jesus gave us the Ten Commandment so that we would know what is right and wrong. He tried to give His people His divine wisdom, but they could not understand it. For them a suffering and crucified Christ was foolishness. Sadly, in today’s world we have seen how men have denied God’s wisdom for their own worldly wisdom which makes pleasure and success their wisdom. This is why
we have allowed and promoted contraception abortion, homosexuality, pornography, trans-genderism and all the many gods of our “brave new world” without God. To promote sin and go against God’s wisdom in the Ten Commandments is truly the foolishness of men!