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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, March 11, 2012

By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service

March 11, Third Sunday of Lent

Cycle B. Readings:

1) Exodus 20:1-17

Psalm 19:8-11

2) 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

Gospel: John 2:13-25

Right there in front of me, my adult children were getting an enormous kick out of reminiscing about times in their childhood when "Mom would yell and her little voice would get all squeaky and shaky."

My response: "It got results, though." Their response: (thunderous laughter) "Well, we felt so sorry for you!"


I admit I'm soft-spoken, easy-going and nonconfrontational. Not one for yelling, I tended to discipline our children through prescribed behavior rather than proscribed behavior. Once they reached the age of reason, I concentrated on the do's over the don'ts. Obviously, with mixed results.

The fact is, even the mildest-mannered parent sometimes has to put her foot down.

So it went in the ultimate parent-child relationship between God and his people. This loving Father gave his children life, land, family and food. He told them they must love and worship him and take care of each other. But they didn't.

He had to put his foot down. He laid down the law with the Ten Commandments. Besides those about showing God respect, most of the rules were of the proscriptive kind: Don't kill, don't commit adultery, don't steal, don't lie. They were the kind of rules you make for very young children -- for their protection.

Thousands of years later -- talk about slow to anger -- people continued to ignore God's laws and he sent his Son with a very loving sort of behavior modification by example. Kindness, patient explanation, mercy, healing, tolerance by him were met with more oppositional attitude. Jesus also put his foot down.

That's the incident in this weekend's Gospel, when Jesus drives the money-changers from the temple, because they were defiling his Father's house. It was hardly a temper tantrum. Jesus made a whip, which suggests a certain amount of premeditation. The point: He needed to get results.

Even the gentlest loving God will give up everything, including his sweet disposition, to discipline his children to get results -- for our ultimate good and protection.

Jesus explained, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." His message was that selfish, sinful human behavior, however attractive and seemingly strong in the moment, will never prevail against God's reign in a life of justice, peace and love.


When, recently, have you ignored Jesus' call to follow his commandments or his ways? What has been the result? How have you experienced God's discipline?


"The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength" (1 Corinthians 1:25).


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