Written on: March 3, 2021
Written by Sister Rita Margraff, GNSH
This is the beginning of the Ten Commandments which God spoke to Moses for all the people. It is the first reading from the Book of Exodus for the third Sunday of Lent. I think I first learned of or heard the Ten Commandments when I was a child in grade school. I was probably puzzled to have a new word added to my vocabulary: covet. As an adult, when I encounter the Commandments, I am most struck by this first one: I am the Lord, your God, you shall not have other gods before me. If that is our entire focus, everything else falls into place. That God is central to my life is the most important thing.
There is a song written by John Foley, SJ, one of the St. Louis Jesuits, now famous for providing so much of our liturgical music. It is entitled, Turn To Me. The refrain goes like this:
“Turn to me, O turn, and be saved, says the Lord, for I am God, there is no other, none beside me, I call your name.”
Isn’t this what God says to Moses in the Commandments? There is no other – I, God, am the first and the only. It is I that must take first place in your heart. Only then would it be possible for you to keep all of the other laws that I enjoin on you.
In the Gospel for today, we see an angry Jesus. We are not used to seeing Jesus this way. It is more comforting to think of Jesus as the healer, the Good Shepherd. Why is Jesus angry? Because the people have put “things” ahead of God. They have made the Temple a place to “buy and sell” rather than a place to worship God – which is all that God asks of us.
Lent is a perfect time for doing – though we sometimes put the emphasis on giving up. It is the perfect time to turn to God again and to pray for the grace to make God the one and only center in your life. Then you will hear God say, as in the first stanza of the song Turn to Me,
“I am God who comforts you, who are you to be afraid…”
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Featured image Siwa, Egypt. Courtesy of Karim Elmalhy/Unsplash