THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
MARCH 4, 2018
Once there was a very sincere man who wished to live a holy life. So he went to the Rabbi for advice. The rabbi congratulated him on his desire, then asked, ‘How have you been faring so far?’ ‘Quiet well, I think,’ the man answered.
When you say well what do you mean?” the rabbi asked. ‘I haven’t broken any of the commandments,’ the man replied. ‘I haven’t taken the Lord’s name in vain. I haven’t profaned the Sabbath day. I haven’t dishon-oured my father and mother. I haven’t killed anyone. I haven’t been unfaithful to my wife. I haven’t stolen from anybody. I haven’t borne false witness against anyone. I haven’t coveted my neighbour’s wife or goods.’
I see said the rabbi. “ So you haven’t broken any of the commandments.’ ‘That’s right,’ the man replied with pride.
But have you kept the commandments?’ the rabbi asked ‘What do you mean?’ said the man.
‘I mean have you honoured God’s holy name? Have you kept holy the Sabbath day? Have you loved and honoured your parents? Have you sought to preserve and defend life? When last did you tell your wife that you loved her? Have you shared your goods with the poor? Have you defended the good name of anyone? When last did you put yourself out to help a neighbour?
The man was completely taken aback. But to his credit he went away and reflected on what the Rabbi had said. He realised that up to this he had been merely intent on avoiding wrongdoing. It is surprising how many people think this is the highest criterion of virtue. But the rabbi offered him a new vision of goodness. This consisted not merely of avoiding evil, but in doing good. Up to now he had a negative concept of goodness. He had given him a new and better compass to guide him, a new and more challenging path to follow.
We must be careful not to make the same mistake this man had. We must not approach the commandments in a negative way because this will lead to minimalism – doing the bare minimum. We must approach the com-mandments in a positive way.
For Jesus keeping the commandments was good and he brought to them a new and exacting law – the law of love. And there is only one sin – not to love.
Our obedience must be motivated not by fear but by love. We don’t keep the commandments so that God will love us; we keep the commandments because God loves us.
Love and peace to one and all in our Lenten Journey