Jerusalem from Mount of Olives
THE PRESENCE OF GOD
- Document: Holy Scripture Readings
1.1. First Reading: The Book of Exodus 20: 1-17
1.2. Second Reading: The First Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians 1: 22-25
1.3. Gospel Reading: The Gospel of St John 2: 13-25
1.4. Simple Comment: At Mount Sinai Yahweh hands over the Ten Commandments to his Chosen People through his servant Moses. They are a tangible sign that He abides with Israel because through the Law He guides his people to the path of life. He is also present in the Temple and Jesus is filled with zeal to cleanse the House of God so that it may not just be a place of business transactions. St Paul similarly asserts God’s presence in His Son, His Son on the cross – the Way, the Truth, the Life.
- Monument: The Wailing Wall
2.1. The Wailing Wall is where Jews come to pray and to lament the destruction of the Temple. The great stones of the lower part of the wall have drafted margins in characteristic Herodian style. They formed part of the retaining wall built by Herod the Great in the year 20 B.C. to support the esplanade of the Temple.
2.2. At the left side of the Wailing Wall, in the section for men, stands a large room where present-day Rabbis pray and store the Scrolls used specifically for the rite of passage of thirteen-year-old males. They call this celebration Bar-Mitzva, indicating that a child has become a spiritually responsible person because he can read the Scripture on his own and has achieved a fairly good knowledge of the Torah.
- Lenten Reflection
3.1. The Ten Commandments have sometimes been considered as burdensome impositions from God. Yet the truth is that more than laws, these commandments are life’s principles or life’s instructions which God graciously has revealed to His people so that they may be properly guided along the path of a harmonious, peaceful and blessed life. It is, in fact, Israel’s distinction to be taught by God himself.
3.2. In the New Testament, God himself came through His Son Jesus to teach and to practise with his own life these very commandments. Jesus showed through his sacrifice on the cross in what the true love of God and of neighbor consists and how his perfect fulfillment of this love both in his unconditional trust to the Father and in his greater-love-than-this self-offering for his friends brought him the resurrection. We understand why St Paul in the second reading calls this exemplary life of Christ – his passion-death-resurrection – the power and the wisdom of God!
3.3. Christ’s cleansing of the Temple invites us this Lenten season to allow him to cleanse our own hearts where he, the Father and the Spirit themselves dwell. Effectively this means re-directing our steps and following the guideposts of life which are His commandments.
- Contemporary Filipino Question: Our Tagalog language has this cultural richness of identifying the Filipino core in the polarity of labas and loob. The loob typifies our pagkatao and as a people we give it premium over and above the panlabas. The Lenten season is a clear invitation to reconfirm our true selves by doing a pagbabalik-loob. Post-modern society has a very strong influence in letting us be content with a panlabas-cosmetic re-ordering of our lives. We may in fact be satisfied with a little self-denial here and a little sacrifice there, but at core we remain greedy, pushy, self-centered, unforgiving, lascivious, jealous and proud. We end up mga taong walang pakiramdam – a trait Filipinos abhor to be identified with.