TUESDAY HOMILY / HOLY WEEK - YEAR B THEME: One of you will betray me! BY: Reflection by Rev Fr Oselumhense Anetor  Is. 49:1-6; John 13:21-33,36-38 Many of us don't like Judas Iscariot;



BY:  Fr Andrew Ekpenyong

1. Joke. After Sunday Mass, a priest noticed a couple whose wedding he had officiated and said: “Nice to see you together at Mass, Mr and Mrs Smith. It would be nicer to see both of you here more often. I notice Mrs Smith comes often”. At that Mr Smith smiled and said: “I know, but at least we keep the 10 commandments”. The priest was a bit bemused. Mr Smith added: “My wife keeps 6 of them including keeping the Lord’s day holy, and I keep the other 4. Remember at our wedding, you told us that the two of us are now one body”. The priest, now amused added: “In that case, you break 6 commandments, and she breaks 4, so you break all ten!” Dear Sisters and Brothers, God’s promulgation of the commandments through Moses, as we heard in today’s 1st reading (Ex 20:1-17) makes explicit what God has already placed in the conscience of every human being, making us moral beings, “homo ethicus”. The moral code is already written in our hearts. Even if we think we have kept all the commandments, the actions of our Lord in today’s Gospel reading (Jn 2:13-25), remind us that there is always room for improvement. Those who were in the Temple that day probably believed that they were observing the commandments. But our Lord helped them to discover that they had turned a house of prayer into a marketplace.


2. Examination of Conscience. A very important aspect of preparing for Easter, is the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation. After His resurrection, our Lord instituted the sacrament of reconciliation when He appeared to His Apostles and said: “‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’” (Jn 20:21-23). The first step for a fruitful confession is examination of conscience. Usually, we review the extent to which we have loved God and neighbor with respect to the ten commandments. Today’s Psalm (Ps 19) eulogizes these commandments: as perfect, refreshing the soul, giving wisdom to the simple, gladdening the heart, enlightening the eye, and enduring forever. Such a positive attitude, helps us examine our consciences in ways that inspire deeper repentance and amendment of life. For instance, in today’s Gospel reading, our Lord was very unhappy over the actions of those inside the Temple area “who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there”. He said: “Take these out of here and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” My question for all of us is: which of the commandments did these people break? Perhaps their actions involved worshipping money, which is having other gods (1st), desecration of the Temple, which is taking the name of the Lord in vain (2nd), sharp business practice, which is stealing (7th). Thus, a thorough examination conscience would have revealed to these people that they were breaking God’s commandments in many ways, inside the Temple itself.

3. Love. Furthermore, our Lord acted out of love for God the Father, and out of love the people. How? The Catechism explains: “Jesus went up to the Temple as the privileged place of encounter with God. For him, the Temple was the dwelling of his Father, a house of prayer, and he was angered that its outer court had become a place of commerce. He drove merchants out of it because of jealous love for his Father.” CCC 584. Regarding love of neighbor, the nature of love shines forth in this cleansing of the Temple. Yes, love includes “the choice to will the good of the other.” (St Thomas Aquinas). The highest good of our neighbor is God Himself. Hence, by cleansing the Temple, so as to purify their worship, our Lord showed love for the people, by bringing them closer to their greatest good, God Himself. Fortunately, the ways in which we show love of neighbor are made very clear in Scripture and summarized as the seven corporal works of mercy (Mt 25:35-46) and the seven spiritual works of mercy, including counseling the doubtful, which is what St Paul does in today’s 2nd reading (1 Cor 1:22-25). Sisters and Brothers, may our Lenten observance include thorough examination of conscience, based on the commandments, based on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as found in Scripture and as explained in the teachings of the Church. There are numerous resources to help us with this. The Catechism is available online. There are mobile phone Apps that assist in examination of conscience such as the free “Mea Culpa Catholic Examination of Conscience for Confession App”, the “ConfessIt App”, etc. Thus, we have traditional as well as new smart ways to make better examination of conscience in order to get better at keeping God’s commandments, which refresh our souls, gladden our hearts, and enlighten our eyes, in preparation for eternal happiness. Amen.



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