Homily – March 7, 2021

III Sunday of Lent
Year B

Legend has it that Martin Luther – that famous 16th century monk who blew up the Catholic world launching the Protestant Reformation – used to have an expression: “never lie when you pray.” Now, whether or not he actually said it really doesn’t matter because it is true … “never lie when you pray.”

Lets try to understand a bit of history here … the Passover was a sacred time – if not the most sacred – and during that time every male Jew had to appear before the Lord in the Temple in an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Further, each had to offer sacrifice to Lord of cattle, lambs, pigeons, doves … according to your economic status. Hence the reason the interior courtyard of the Temple basically looked like a zoo – This is what Jesus walks into … the Temple – every part of it – is symbolic of God’s dwelling on earth. And what does He see … a system of usury, of those in authority taking advantage of the most sacred time of the year in order to turn a profit … He sees them using the Jewish faith and the people for their own personal gain…

“Never lie when you pray” … In the era of the ambiguous Catholic we see something so very similar to the situation in today’s gospel. Catholic public officials – who are both political figures and clergy – distorting the Catholic faith, using it to their personal advantage when convenient – when the faith, mainly matters of social justice – align with a political ideology. As if all that matters to them is that our sacred and beloved faith meet their expectations and help further advance their agenda, popularity, career, and so on. The ambiguous Catholic is fickle and inconsistent … lacks depth and sincerity.

This is why Jesus doesn’t trust Himself to the people … they saw His miracles and knew He had extraordinary divine power. He was attractive to them … But He knew their faith was limited… fickle and inconsistent … lacking depth and sincerity…

“Never lie when you pray” … Yet this has implications in our own lives as Catholics as well … The gospel today teaches us something about being consistent, honest and sincere … we may not understand our faith the way we ought to, we may not agree with some of the teachings of the Church – some of which are non-negotiable … yet, Lent offer us the perfect time to find the inconsistencies, to identify the fickleness of our hearts … ask questions, do some reading and research, go to confession … Thus bringing our minds into a greater understanding of our faith, allowing ourselves to be formed by God, by the Church so that we might be able to confess our faith with conviction in word and deed, with consistency and sincerity, in season and out of season … When we really believe what we believe then we must conform our hearts, minds, choices, and actions – both public and private – to the convictions we claim to hold – not just in part … not just when its convenient.

“Never lie when you pray” … … In the era of the ambiguous Catholic let us strive to be truthful, consistent and sincere.

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