The readings for the third Sunday in this Lenten season contrast God’s patterns with human ones. The ten commandments given at Mount Sinai begin with an emphasis on recognizing that the one true God transcends our idolatrous conceptions of the Divine. Our failures in life can be primarily traced to this root sin of elevating what is partial and incomplete to the ultimate level that belongs to God alone.
The New Testament readings highlight this human tendency. Paul exhorts the Corinthians to place their trust neither in miraculous signs nor in human understanding, but in the unsettling and mind-boggling message of the cross. Paul warns that both those who seek for tangible proof (“signs”) and those who seek for precise understanding (“human wisdom”) will find the self-sacrificing and transcendent message of the cross to be “foolishness.” The reading from John’s Gospel shows Jesus disrupting the temple activities. This reminds us that Jesus will continually conflict with the degradation of true worship that results from our natural habit to center even our religious efforts on ourselves.