Sunday, March 04, 2018
3rd Sunday of Lent - Sermon notes "On Orthodoxy"
For forty days Jesus dwelt in the wilderness.
The wilderness was the very opposite of the Paradise, the walled garden God had created for man. The wilderness was the place of thistles and thorns, of chaos and disorder, wildness and confusion, it was a God-less and God-forsaken place, the place wild and dangerous animals, the place of demons and devils.
The God-Man, driven by the Spirit, goes into the wilderness not just to be alone but to begin a war against confusion and disorder, against the demon's and devils which will reach its triumph of the Cross, when God's Kingdom is exulted. He goes into the wilderness to cleanse it for at the end of his stay there the angels come to minister to him there.
The cleansing of the Temple, in today's form comes from John's gospel, it is at very beginning of his Gospel, chapter 2. It is used as a kind of preface to John's Gospel -the other Gospel's use it as a preface to Holy Week. In John's Gospel it becomes a statement of Jesus' mission - to bring right worship or it could be translated as orthodoxy- ortho doxa - 'right glory/teaching' to the world to save it from heterodoxy - other glory/teaching.
Jesus cleanses the Temple to purify it. The Temple of course was a metaphor for or a model of the cosmos, like pagan temples. Indeed some have suggested Jesus' teaching about the destruction of the world was actually about the destruction of the Temple. Jesus himself of course compares his body to the Temple, "Destroy this temple and in tree days I will raise it up." "He was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body"
Disorder, heterodoxy or heresy, confusion are not of God. Moral confusion is not of God, hence in the first reading God gives the 10 Commandments, the first and foremost, "You shall have no gods before me", it is introduced by God saying "I brought you out of the house of Egypt, the house of bondage, of slavery". Out of the place of superstition, immorality, moral confusion and relativism. Hence the absolute necessity to follow the Commandments which are not about slavery but liberation in God.
Orthodoxy right worship is freedom. St Paul will tell Christians that they too are the Temple (of the Holy Spirit). Cleansing our Temple is a fundamental to being a Christian. Believing rightly is absolutely necessary to acting rightly, towards Gad and man. Knowing/understanding our Catholic faith is necessary for our Salvation. Wrong belief goes with wrong living, hetrodoxis goes with hetropraxis.
The Good Shepherd leads us into truth, he makes the lost, the found, those in darkness are led into the light, the wounded have their hurting healed.
Lent is the time when Holy Church commands to cleanse the Temple of our heart by recognising our sin, our unorthodoxy, in the light of the Commandments, in the light of the Gospels to confess all our serious sins in the Sacrament of Penance so that we might be purified to receive the Risen Christ in a truly worthy state.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake