Friar’s Corner: Put God first and see his covenant blessings

Exodus 20:1-17; Ps 19:8-11; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25; John 2:13-25

The first theme this week is the 10 Commandments. The first three are God-centered. 1) "I am the Lord your God you shall not have strange gods before or along side of Me." 2)"You shall not take the Name of the Lord, your God in vain." 3) "Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day," a day for you to rest from your daily work. The last seven are short "natural law" ones which any society needs to put into effect in order to survive.

The Code of Hammurabi, a Babylonian king, back in 1754 BC, formed the first recorded law system bringing justice for all his people and punishment for those who disobey. A one-line summary of his laws would be, "an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth." This may sound dumb or we could say: "Do to others as you would have them do to you." This is an awesome principle of behavior. Would that all the parents in our country would ingrain that one line into all of their children. What a different country we would have.

Put God first

After Moses the Jews added some 600 laws. Jesus simplified them in saying: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as you love yourself," Luke 10:27. In other words, put God first. However, for some their identity as a person was so wounded by past abuse, that they won’t have enough love for themselves, as children of God, to love others. St. Matthew expressed this in another way with the Sermon on the Mount or Beatitudes in chapters 5 and 7.

Here are some books helping us understand more about these commandments. A very short and almost one sentence summary outline and resource guide of the "new" Catholic Catechism is A Walk Through The New Catechism, by Fr. Bill McCarthy, from My Father’s House, 39 N Moodus Rd, Moodus, CT 06469, 860-873-1581. A book with a little more information is the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is sort with a question-and answer-format. A good book, written more like parents explaining the faith to a little older children, is, United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in DC. The official Catechism of the Catholic Church was written mostly for bishops, priests and those teaching the faith to others. This is more difficult to read.

Jesus cleanses the temple

The gospel story today is about Jesus cleansing the Jerusalem temple. Dr. Scott Hahn holds that God ordered the Jews in Moses’ time to sacrifice certain animals before the meeting tent and later temple because those were the pagan gods they worshiped in Egypt. Jesus went into the temple at Passover time and drove out those selling sheep, oxen and doves saying, "Take these out of here, and stop making My Father’s house a marketplace." The Jews then ask Jesus for a sign of why he had done that. Jesus simply said "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years and you will raise it up in three days?"

St. John is famous for his double-layered meanings. The Jews were referring to Herod’s temple yet Jesus was referring to his human body and his resurrection from the dead, which had not happened. Jesus’ death and resurrection would be the sixth and final covenant God made with humanity to offer salvation and forgiveness from sins to all humans and bring us into the kingdom of his wonderful family. We don’t have to accept the invitation and be pilgrims on earth working to spread the love of Jesus and thus get to heaven.

Our new creation as his temple

Jesus came to make us a new creation in his new temple, his body. He keeps renewing us to become his new creation. He offers us daily training and his own Body and Blood as food each day all over the world. The Jerusalem temple is no more. The Romans destroyed it in 70 AD. It still had not be rebuilt and may never be. The Jewish faith in Christ’s time was forever changed with the temple’s destruction. With Jesus we personally and collectively, are the new temple. He is living in us since our baptism. Jesus continues to teach us and empower us to go out and bring as many as we can into his new family so they can be new and filled with God’s love and mercy.

We don’t bring new people in by force or terror. We do it by the way we live and act each day. And like St. Francis of Assisi, sometimes we use words. Our example is so important in bringing others to be part of this wonderful family.

Have a good rest of Lent as we repent of our past sins and failings, and prepare for a great celebration of Christ’s resurrected. He is alive!

Blessings,
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2015 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)

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About Nancy Ward

Nancy HC Ward is a journalist, author, and speaker who blogs about Catholicism, her conversion, and Christian community at JoyAlive.net,
 7 websites and 7 magazines. She loves to share her faith story and help others share theirs through her Sharing Your Faith Stories seminars, also available on DVD. She contributed four chapters to The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion. She facilitates the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers and a critique group for the Catholic Writers Guild, where she serves as a board member.
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