Homily 3rd Sunday of Lent Year B - Ten commandments and good intentions

 Homily (Sermon) - Ten commandments and good intentions

Revised and updated version of the homily I gave in 2015.

The Readings for Sunday 3rd March 2024 or Third Sunday of Lent Year B:
Exodus 20:1-17
Psalm 18
Corinthians 1:22-25
John 2:13-25

[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

Did you know that the Ten Commandments can be found in the Jewish Torah, the Muslim Quran and the Christian Bible. Over half of the worlds population believe that the Ten Commandments are divine instructions for us, helping us to lead good lives that move us closer to God.

God gave us these rules to help us, to guide us, to bring us step by step closer to Him.

The rules are simple, and on the face of it seem easy to keep. But they are also easy to bend, easy to forget once in a while, easy to ignore for the greater good, easy to lose sight of when filled with good intentions. Like in today’s gospel. The money changes and market stall owners started out doing something good. Money used in the temple was holy, so was only used in the temple. They offered a service to change your money to temple money. The animal sacrifices needed to be bought, so people sold them close to the temple. Over time the profit became more important than sacred. Good intentions forgotten; ten commandments ignored. 

You and I are like the money changers. I doubt there is one person here today, that could honestly say they have always kept the Ten Commandments. That’s sad, and wonderful!  Because we are not able to keep the ten commandments, Jesus comes to help us, to intercede for us, He sacrifices Himself for us, He dies in our place and gives us back to God.  We know Jesus, because we don’t keep Gods Law.

This however doesn’t mean we can just ignore the commandments. No, each time we break them we are driving a nail into the wrists and ankles of Christ. We are adding to the pain and suffering Christ goes through for us.

So let’s take a look at Gods Ten Commandments:

1. You shall have no other gods: This seems easy in today’s world where we are not temped by Bale or Molech. But how often is our faith diluted and diverted by money, power, lust or greed. Maybe today's tempting faiths are shopping centres, advertising, credit cards, chocolate, alcohol and pornography. Ask yourself what you put your faith and hope in most of the time.

2. Don’t use my name as a swear word: The most common and acceptable swear word in my office is also the name of my God. Jesus Christ should be shouted out in joy and worship not when you hit your thumb with a hammer or when someone pulls out in front of you at a junction. How often do you use God’s name to swear instead of to worship?

3. Sunday is a Holy Day: What comes first on Sundays, work, sport, shopping or God? You need time to rest, a day a week to stop. A day to spend time with God. How do you choose to make Sunday special?

4. Love your mum and dad: As a child or adult it’s often easy to get upset with our parents. We should do as they say when we are young and look after them as they grow old. What was the last wonderful thing you did for your parents? The church also teaches that this commandment includes respecting all in authority police, politicians and bishops. How do you respect authority? 

5. Don’t kill: This means respect life. Use your life well and help others live their lives well. Don’t allow people to be hurt by thing you do or don’t do. There is so much we don’t do, there are so many people dying or hurting in this world. Could you do one more thing that would help some live better?

6. Don’t sleep around: The church’s teaching and society’s norms are quite different here. God tells us to love one person, marry them and be faithful to them. Have you found that one person? Are you being faithful to them? Even if you haven’t met them yet, are you being faithful to them?

7. Don’t steal: We don’t like it when strong or clever people take what is ours. We shouldn’t take what belongs to others. Do you buy fair trade? Do you use the office photocopier or take the odd pen and pad of paper home from work? Do you copy music? Do you use someone else Netflix account? Think what you may have taken and how you could give it back.

8. Don’t lie or mislead: Telling little white lies, being economical with the truth and deliberately misleading others is so easy to do. We are told to respect truth, how can you become more truthful?

9. Don’t lust after people: Do you look at others as sexual objects or God children? Expanding on the 6th commandment God tells us that just thinking about sleeping around is bad. What books do you read, what TV and films do you watch? What do you look up on the internet?

10. Don’t get jealous of what others have: Your neighbour may have the best car, TV, watch, house or donkey you have ever seen. Be pleased for them, don’t envy them. Modern advertising teaches us to want many things, but how easy do you find it to enjoy what you already have?

So this lent why don’t we take a look through the commandments, think about our lives and what we can do better.  Then this Easter, as we celebrate the sacrifice Christ made for us, make a change in our lives worthy of that sacrifice, worthy if the gift Christ died to give to us.

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