Third Sunday of Lent
As we are now well into Lent, we can take a look at what it means to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. A good place to start would be the Ten Commandments. The reading from Exodus presents us with one of the first listings of the Commandments. In this passage, God explains some of the laws to show how serious they are. For the first one, God includes making images to be used for worship. Now you might jump to the conclusion that all the statues and crucifixes in our churches must be destroyed. Not so.
In the days of Moses, people of other cultures made images of their gods and declared that the image was the god, and so should be worshipped. The Lord wanted his people to remember that God cannot be limited to an image or idea. That is still true today. Our images and statues are meant to help us pray to God, not to that work of art. In that sense, they are no worse than using a beautiful sunset or mountain scene to help you pray.
On the other hand, some people give a superstitious meaning to religious articles. Burying a statue to help sell your house could be one example. If you want to ask for a favor from God, just ask Him. God is much more likely to listen to a sincere prayer than a superstitious action.
The reason God gives for the first commandment is that he is a passionate God, who has chosen the Israelites to be his people. When he punishes sin, he allows the effect of our bad choices to hurt us and those around us. But when we repent and change our ways, his love is everlasting.
God also emphasizes some commands by duplicating them. He tells us not to steal from others, and also not to plan to steal from our neighbor. The same with adultery: Planning it is just as bad as doing it. Taking his name in vain originally meant perjuring yourself after taking an oath to tell the truth. That is similar to the eighth commandment about false witness.
Jesus simplified all these commands when he reminds us to love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Let’s remember that as we turn away from sin to serving God better during Lent.
-Tom Schmidt, Diocesan Publications
SAINT KATHARINE DREXEL (1858-1955) – March 3rd
Born into Philadelphia society, Katharine was an infant when she lost her mother. Her father remarried and the couple taught their daughters that their wealth was a “gift on loan” to be shared with the poor, whom they fed and cared for in their home. Invited by priest-friends to witness firsthand the destitution on Native American reservations, Katharine resolved to devote her inheritance to this apostolate and to enter a contemplative order. When, however, in private audience, she begged Leo XIII to send missionaries to staff the schools she was building, the pope replied, “My child, why not become a missionary yourself?” Katharine renounced a twenty-million-dollar fortune and founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, adoring Christ present in the Eucharist and ministering to Christ suffering in victims of racial discrimination. Her Sisters established over sixty schools nationwide, including Xavier University in New Orleans, the first dedicated to professional education for African Americans. In 2000, John Paul II canonized “Mother Drexel,” praising her “excellent example of practical charity and generous solidarity with the less fortunate, long the distinguishing mark of American Catholics.”
—Peter Scagnelli, Diocesan Publications