March 12, 2023 –
The Third Sunday of Lent [A]
Exodus 17:3-7 + Romans 5:1-2,5-8 + John 4:5-42
“Is the Lord in our midst or not?”
The love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is what the Samaritan woman in today’s Gospel Reading is seeking. Jesus knows better than she does what kind of thirst is in her heart. She’s looked for love in many places, but has failed in her search. Jesus wants to offer her the love that can only come from God. He offers the same to us during Lent.
One of the guideposts that God has given to help us is the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments, of course, fall into two parts. In our whole life on earth, God really asks only two things: to love God and to love our neighbor.
Yet there’s a reason that God put the First through Third Commandments before the other seven. Just as prayer has to be the source of our good works, so following the first three commandments help us to follow the latter seven. Giving God His due is needed to have a heart open to the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which in turn we are meant to share with our neighbor.
God’s First Commandment is: “I am the Lord, your God. You shall not have other gods before me.” This commandment forbids fashioning one’s own gods when God Himself does not meet our expectations. In our own day, there is no end to the suggestions that the world makes about possible substitutes for God: money, sexuality, power, etc.
One way to reflect on whether the things in our lives are challenging God for First Place is to imagine what our reaction would be if some thing was taken away from us or destroyed. What if your home, along with all your vehicles, burned completely to the ground? Would you be distraught? Or would your response be like that of Job in the Old Testament, who recognized that every thing in his life was a gift from God that he did not deserve. Would your response be like that of Jesus on the Cross, who in His complete poverty still chose to act out of divine love?
The Second Commandment calls us to respect our God in a unique way. “You shall not take the Name of the Lord, your God, in vain.” The name of a person represents that person. Throughout the scriptures we see God giving new names to individuals as signs of their identities and missions among the People of God.
The name of God is All-Holy, just as God Himself is All-Holy. To abuse the name of God is to abuse God Himself. For Christians, there are only two valid ways in which to speak the Name of God: first, for prayer; second, for leading another towards God in holy conversation, including teaching.
The Third Commandment concerns the fact that Christians are not only called to have a personal relationship with God, but are also to have a spiritual relationship with other Christians, and that together Christians are to worship God. “Keep holy the Lord’s Day.” Sunday is the day of the week on which Jesus rose from the dead, and because of this, Christians have always honored Sunday as the “eighth day” of the week, the day on which a new creation was established by God.
Every Sunday, Catholics are obliged by their baptismal promises to share in public worship at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Missing Mass is an offense against God’s love because the Mass is the form of worship He gave us at the Last Supper. Jesus didn’t say at the Last Supper, “Play a round of golf in memory of me.” He didn’t say, “Catch up on your sleep in memory of me.” Jesus confirmed and specified the meaning of the Third Commandment at the Last Supper, telling us: “Do this in memory of me.”