The Ten Commandments and Salvation History
On this Third Sunday of Lent, we contemplate another important stage in the history of our salvation. Two weeks ago, on the First Sunday of Lent, we read about Noah and the renewal and re-establishment of the covenant of creation. Last week, we heard how God made a covenant with Abraham and how God promised to bestow blessing upon the families of the earth through the descendants of Abraham. This week we learn about the commandments given in connection with another covenant, the covenant mediated by Moses at the foot of Mount Sinai. Through the Sinai Covenant, the people of Israel are welcomed into God’s family as his first-born son (Exodus 4:22). Israel is God’s first-born son, but one day the covenant blessing of divine sonship will be extended to all the nations and families of the earth. All people, and not just Israel, are called to become adopted children in God’s family.
The Ten Commandments were given to direct how we are to live in God’s family: the first three commandments focus on our relationship with God; the next seven guide our relationship with our brothers and sisters. The Ten Commandments not only guide our relationships but can be seen as part of the spiritual path marked out by God that leads to eternal life with Him. This is why we use them as tools to help us prepare to make a good Confession. Jesus teaches us that the Ten Commandments of the Sinai Covenant are a starting point and a necessary first step, but that we are called to mature in spiritual perfection and holiness in the New Covenant He brings.
The Gospel today gives us a sense of the Old Covenant being brought to fulfilment in the New. The Old Law was given to the people through Moses; the New Law and the gift of God’s grace were given to us through Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, Emmanuel, God with us (John 1:17).
The Old Temple had become corrupt. In fact, in Jesus’ day, the part of the Temple that was called the court of the Gentiles was being used to change money and to sell animals to the pilgrims who came to worship. Jesus cleanses this part of the old Temple, built by human hands, and points forward to the mystery of the New Temple. In the old Temple, the people sacrificed many animals and many types of animals. These sacrifices were ineffective in taking away sin. In the New Temple, there is only one sacrifice in which we share. This is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and our eternal high priest. This one sacrifice is able to take away our sins. The sacrifice we partake of in at every Mass!
Fr David Jones OLW