HOMILY FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR B
HOMILY THEME: THE CHURCH IS ALWAYS REFORMING (ECCLESIA SEMPER REFORMANDA EST)
BY: Fr. Cosmas Ukadike CM
Before St Augustine of Hippo agrees that the Church is always reforming and that the Church should keep this in mind, Jesus himself had already begun the process of reformation within his Church, as we see today in the gospel reading:
In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”(Jn 2, 13-16).
Jesus saw that here was an institution in need of reform.
Every institution, whether secular or religious, is always in need of some reform. The Church, in so far as it has a human element, is in need of ongoing reform. And the Church exists solely to serve the purposes of God in the world. So for the fact that the Church is composed also of human beings, it may as well serve as a block to God’s purposes if not constantly checked. So here we discover that the need for a continuous reform is necessary.
Surely not everything can go in the Church, which is why the Church has its modus operandi as stipulated in the liturgical rites and the General Instructions on worship.
However these documents are to be reviewed from time to time and to be given a contextual interpretation based on cultural realities. On the part of the individual worshipers as well, today’s first reading refreshes our minds with the 10 commandments as a key to helping us in our constant reform (Exod (20:1-17). It is a call to love God above all else and love our neighbours (brothers/ sisters/ relatives/ friends/strangers even those we consider enemies) as God has loved us.
From Gods commandment above, we discover that God can “punish children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject him, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love him and keep his commandments” (Exd 20, 5-6). A thousand generation surely is greater than a fourth generation, this is a show of Gods everlasting love for those who would love him and keep his commandment. He is urging us not to reject him and not to reject the constant need for reform. For the consequences of rejecting him can be enormous.
The season of Lent is an important moment for reform as it enables us to get connected to the mystery of our faith; the Lord’s passion death and resurrection.
It’s a moment to go into ourselves and to truly appreciate the mystery of the cross as St Paul described it in the second reading:
“we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1Cor 1, 22-25). Lent is a moment of penance for a true reform. Let us therefore key-into the spirit of lent and allow Gods Holy Spirit at work in this moment to do his work of reformation in us. May the transforming Cross transform our lives.
Fr. Cosmas Ukadike, C.M.