Jesus Gives us the Words of Everlasting Life
Third Sunday of Lent, Year B
Ex. 20:1-3, 7-8, 12-17; Ps. 19; 1 Cor. 1:22-25; Jn. 2:13-25
The Responsorial Psalm tends to receive little attention in preaching, save for a few words quoted here and there to drive home a point. But, we do well, to give it our full attention, as we would any of the other readings, because the psalms, like any other text in Sacred Scripture, are indeed the inspired words of God. And we are quite fortunate here to have a music ministry that makes these words sound so beautiful. And while the singing is perhaps not as much as some of us would prefer right now, it nevertheless emphasizes one of the most significant parts of the Mass, namely, our response to God.
That the Responsorial Psalm is sung after the First Reading is no accident. And that we call it a responsorial indicates its intended purpose, that is, to be a sung response to God. You will often see a beautiful connection between the First Reading and the Responsorial Psalm, and today is no exception. Upon hearing the Commandments of God, what is our response? “Lord, you have the words of everlasting life…The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.” These words do refresh us. That is why the Liturgy of the Word is situated before the Eucharist. It is refreshing to hear God’s Word, which is a foretaste of things to come.
The Word of God prepares us to receive him in the Eucharist. And so, during this season of Lent, how are we preparing to receive Christ? Just as the Responsorial Psalm is our sung response to the Word of God, so too are our acts of prayer, fasting, and charity a sign of our response. But, this outward sign should not be the end of our charity, rather, it is a participation in the unconditional love of God. This love of God is truly complete in us whenever we respond in kind. In other words, our true self is selfless. Just as Jesus gave himself for the sake of the world, so too do we give of ourselves for the good of others.
And so, as we have received the Word of God and responded in song, may our reception of Christ in the Eucharist evoke in us that same selfless response toward others. And may the love we share grow more deeply in each of us through Him who strengthens us by Word and Sacrament. “Lord, you have the words of everlasting life. They are more precious than gold, than a heap of purest gold; sweeter also than syrup or honey from the comb.”
Given during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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