Third Sunday of Lent

My dear parishioners and friends of our parish community: Praised be Jesus Christ!  King of endless glory! 

Today is the Third Sunday in Lent.  In today’s First Reading, God gives the Israelites the Ten Commandments; in today’s Gospel, Christ says that he will destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days.  The Ten Commandments and the derivative regulations governed behavior from morning until night. 

The Temple was the place of prayer and sacrifice, the place God continued to dwell with his people in the Ark of the Covenant, which held the tablets given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai.  So, when Christ takes a whip and cleanses the Temple of money changers in the Gospel, He is giving a vivid sign of respect for the Temple that should not have been lost.  It became clear after Jesus’ death and resurrection that He is not just master of the Temple; Christ is the new Temple! 

The Ten Commandments once were the way and the truth, and the Temple was the life of the pious Jew; now Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  You can hear the tension in today’s Second Reading: Christ the Temple is a “stumbling block” to Jews; Christ the way is “foolishness” to the Gentiles.  But to Christians, Jesus Christ is what the Temple and Law once were: “the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 

This week, Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Cameroon and Angola in pilgrimage to Africa March 17th – 23rd, 2009.  The Holy Father plans to meet with Muslims, Catholic Movements promoting women’s rights, and African youth.  The Global Catholic Television Network (EWTN) offers video of these historic papal events on your personal computer.  Click here for EWTN’s TV schedule of the Pope’s visit and click here to watch EWTN live.

March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day and March 19th is St. Joseph’s Day.  For St. Patrick’s Day, recite the famous “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” prayer.  Catholic tradition tells us this prayer was composed by dear St. Patrick himself and is an old Irish favorite prayer in the style that St. Patrick would have prayed ministering and building up Catholic faith in Ireland.  The best way, of course, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day is by attending Holy Mass on the morning of March 17th, which is a “great day for the Irish!”  “The wearin’ and sharin’ of the green!”  St. Patrick is the Principal Patron Saint of the Diocese of Norwich and is titular of our Cathedral. 

St. Joseph’s Day in Europe is often “Father’s Day” or “Family Day” in honor of St. Joseph, head of the family of Nazareth.  Why not make his feast a special “spiritual” Father’s Day for Dad?  Write cards thanking Dad for all of the virtues he brings to the family.  St. Joseph is Patron Saint of the Universal Church and Baptismal name of Pope Benedict XVI.  St. Joseph is my family’s most beloved and my most favorite intercessor in Heaven.

                                                           Lenten Sunday Blessings to all! 
                                           
      Happy St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Days! 
                          
                                                Devotedly, 
                         
                                                Father Jim 
                                                      SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

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