Third Sunday of Lent

March 3, 2024

March 3, 2024


March 3, 2024

Third Sunday of Lent





How many of you have ever offered a gentle shoulder or listening ear to someone going through a difficult time? Now take yourself back to a time when, as that person opened up to you more, you started to realize that this person was actually their own worst enemy. There might be some bad luck and unfortunate circumstances at play, but they are also making choices that aren't doing them any favors. Have you ever seen someone who is on the verge of really making a mess of things and you become so worried for them that you just want to shake them and say, “STOP! Don’t you see what you’re doing?! Can’t you see you are making things worse for yourself?!?” If you’ve found yourself in that place of desperate exasperation, then, you have something in common with Jesus. Be consoled. As you sit with your concern, frustration, and anger Jesus understands how you feel.

In today’s gospel we hear the story of Jesus driving merchants out of the temple. It might be shocking for some to picture Jesus overturning tables and chasing people with whips, but what we hear is a story of Jesus having a painfully authentic human experience. And what a gift to read and hear about how Jesus processed that anger. When He is asked to explain Himself, to justify His actions, He tells the religious authorities to destroy the temple and that he will rebuild it in three days. His disciples later understand that Jesus was referring to His own body, to His passion and resurrection. Jesus’ dramatic actions are born out of deep, consuming love.

Speaking of intense anger born out of deep love…I’ve worked in high schools for over ten years and I cannot count how many times students have taken umbrage with school rules. In their opinion, we are monsters for insisting on things like proper dress code and keeping cell phones off and away. When students bend or break those rules, I have witnessed (and have been) the apoplectic adult attempting to yell students into understanding or at the very least compliance. The emotions we feel may be understandable but that’s beyond the point. The point is that it’s rarely effective.

When I initially looked at today’s first reading, I’ll admit I bristled at several points. God can be jealous? God inflicts multi-generational punishment on those who disobey God’s word?! I really had to sit with these readings and pray to see the heart of God in these verses. Ultimately, the same thing that helped me better understand God’s message here was what also helps me better accompany young people who like to push the envelope and it is this–lean into the ‘why’.

I think when we look at the Ten Commandments, we are actually looking at a fairly concise yet comprehensive guide for how to be in right relationship with God, with ourselves, and with every other creature we encounter. This is guidance that every group of people in the history of the world has needed. Nobody likes to be told what to do though. Nobody likes rules, but if you lean into the ‘why’, it is easier to understand and accept them.

“You shall not bear false witness.” Why? Because you can’t deceive others and have healthy, open, loving relationships.

“Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.” Why? Because you can’t ignore your body or the earth’s need for rest and have a sustainable, balanced life.

“You shall not have other gods besides me…you shall not take the name of the Lord, your God in vain.” Why? Because you can’t deny the existence of your spiritual self, your relationship with a creator, your relationship to life as a created being and fully understand your place in this world.  You simply cannot.

So, what do we do with this knowledge, this new understanding? Well, when you think you’ve really figured something out, it’s hard to watch others go about things the “wrong way”. And it is doubly hard to watch people live in a way that we think is contrary to God’s laws - whether out of ignorance or defiance. Anger is a natural, human response. It is healthy and often a helpful compass that directs us to urgent needs. But if you ever feel consumed by anger when things don’t go the way you think they should, it might be helpful to remember what the psalmist says: God’s word is right, perfect, clear. God’s word leads us to everlasting life. And while we should stand up for God’s word and act as living witnesses, God does not require us to threaten or shake each other into acknowledging that truth. God’s word is effective. It’s more than factually true, it is existentially true and will, in the fullness of time, come to pass. Everyone is on their own journey though and you cannot drag anyone to the spot where you are on your journey. We all walk the path one tiny step at a time while God does the hard work of transforming our hearts.

My prayer today is that we all continue to walk our path with hearts open to God’s loving redirection. I also pray that we might be patient with others we encounter along the way, especially when anger (even righteous anger) threatens to consume us. Let God do God’s work while we do ours. And consider that maybe our work is as simple as walking each other home.

First Reading

Ex 20:1-17 or Ex 20:1-3, 7-8, 12-17


Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11

Second Reading

1 Cor 1:22-25


Jn 2:13-25
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Vickey McBride

Vickey McBride

Vickey McBride is Vice President for Mission at Saint Martin de Porres High School (Cristo Rey) in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2023, she received the Michael Pressley Award for Excellence in Catholic Education.  She has written reflections for the 2024 and 2023 editions of the Living Liturgy Sunday Missal published by Liturgical Press. She also contributed to Five Minutes with the Saints: More Spiritual Nourishment for Busy Teachers, a book of meditations published by Ave Maria Press in 2014. She is passionate about music, spirituality, and building loving communities.



The second of three volumes from the Catholic Women Preach project of FutureChurch offers homilies for each Sunday and holy days of the liturgical year by Catholic women from around the world.  The first volume for Cycle A received awards for best book on Liturgy from both the Association of Catholic Publishers and the Catholic Media Association.

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