3rd Sunday in Lent
Exodus 20:1-17
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
John 2:13-25

The Fall of Adam caused a great rupture in the life of man. Adam tried to make himself god, instead of recognizing that man was created to serve and love God and one another. Now man’s whole life was no longer directed towards his creator and end, God, but inwardly towards himself. We see the result of this sin almost immediately: when Cain brutally murders his brother, his reasons are purely selfish. The rest of the book of Genesis gives an indication of the depths to which man will fall now that his whole life is directed towards selfish pursuits. Murder, rape, sodomy and incest – when man puts himself first things get ugly.

However God does not abandon man to this predicament forever. His first step in the redemption of man was to teach him how to live an authentically human life, through the Ten Commandments, as well as the rest of the Law. By giving us these guidelines for a fulfilled life, God is making clear to the world how man can be truly happy. But these Commandments were only a set of regulations – they did not have the power to make one truly God-centered, truly holy. Even with the Ten Commandments, man continued to rebel against God and put himself above all things. In the end, all the Ten Commandments did was to condemn man; he proved that even with the knowledge of good and evil, he was still unable to resist the pull of sin within him.

But this recognition of condemnation was a good thing. It forced man to recognize his need for a savior – one who would save man from his sins, and also give him the power to overcome them. With the coming of Christ, there is now a new law that can be written in the heart of man – Christ himself. He is the “wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24), the way that leads to the Father. Christ knows the power of sin, and how we resist following his law. John tells us that “Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well” (John 2:24-25). He knows that without his grace, we are unable to follow the law of God as we should. We need help.

How do we receive that help? Directly following this statement by John about Christ understanding human nature Jesus meets with Nicodemus in the night. He tells the Pharisee that following the law will require a radical reconfiguration of human nature – one will have to be “born again” in the waters of baptism. This is the means, unavailable under the Old Law, by which man can finally live an authentically human life, one that loves and serves God and others. Through the grace available through Baptism and all the sacraments, man is finally able to see the wisdom of God and follow the new law, Jesus Christ.
All Reflections



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