Following God’s Commandments Leads to a Life of Blessings

User’s Guide to the Third Sunday of Lent

God gives us a guide to living well.
God gives us a guide to living well. (photo: Unsplash)

Sunday, March 3, is the Third Sunday of Lent. Mass readings: Exodus 20:1-17 or Exodus 20:1-3, 7-8, 12-17; Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 11; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25; John 2:13-25.

In the Sunday Gospel according to Year B, Jesus cleanses the Temple. But you are the Temple of God, and the danger is that you can sell yourself short by accepting mediocrity. We are tempted to sell our souls to the world, the flesh and the devil, accepting in exchange false and empty promises. The Ten Commandments (today’s first reading) are not mere rules. 

Rather, they describe the cleansing and freedom the Lord wants to give us. If we see the commandments as promises of a new and abundant life, many will be far more joyful in what the Lord offers through them. Let’s consider aspects of the Ten Commandments that help us come to a richer understanding of a transformed and increasingly blessed life.

“You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols … you shall not bow down before them or worship them.” In this First Commandment, we are offered increasing love of God above all things, above all people, and above life in this world. This is what properly orders and orients us. Whenever we value any person or thing above God, our life quickly becomes disordered. God promises love for him and his heavenly kingdom above all earthly things. 

“You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain; keep holy the Sabbath.” In this commandment, the Lord promises a heart with which to love him. To revere God’s name is to have a deep love for him, a deep sense of wonder and awe and a joy in worshipping him.

“Honor your father and mother.” Here, the Lord wants to give us deep gratitude for our parents and others in authority who have helped to raise, teach and support us. 

“You shall not kill.” The Lord promises to subdue the anger, hate, resentfulness and vengefulness that eat away at us and unleash terrible destruction. He describes a person who reverences the sacredness of every human life and sees in it the hand and the love of God. What a gift it is simply to love others! God can do this for us.

“You shall not commit adultery.” The Lord promises to quell the often-unruly passions of lust. He declares that the transformed human person has authority over his or her sexuality. The Lord also offers us a joyful reverence for marriage and the sacredness of human life. 

Too many people today are slaves to sexuality through addiction to pornography. God wants to set us free. He wants to subdue our lust, to give us authority over our sexuality, and to bring us to sexual maturity.

“You shall not steal.” In this commandment, the Lord wants to instill in us a gratitude for what we have, to overcome our greed, and to cool our fear. Some steal out of fear that they do not have enough. Others do so on account of greed; they are not satisfied with what they have.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” God promises a great love for the truth and respect for the reputation of others. The transformed person speaks the truth in love. He has a well-trained tongue and speaks only to glorify God. His conversation is always full of grace, seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6). 

“You shall not covet …” Here, the Lord wants to quell the fires of greed within us. God promises a deeper spirit of satisfaction and gratitude for what we have.