The law of life
A reflection for the Third Sunday of Lent, Year B
by Sr. Nathalie Becquart, xmcj
“I, the LORD am your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
You shall not have other gods besides me.” – Exodus 20:1
In this first reading from Exodus, the Lord our God delivers His commandments. But they are not a kind of conceptual, idealistic statement. God’s words are about a relationship and an experience. He is the God who has transformed the lives of the Israelites, leading them out of the land of Egypt to liberate them. The Ten Commandments, expressed as ten statements or recommendations, are delivered at the end and not at the beginning of this text.
In first place is the experience with God, the encounter with Him. And the Ten Commandments have to be understood within this experience, which is a journey towards true liberty. In this way, the Lord our God is presented as the Lord of Liberation, the One who wants human beings to be free from slavery, free from idolatry. His Law is a law of freedom, of liberty. And the Psalm tells us that His decrees and precepts have a truly positive impact on us.
The effects of God’s law are comparable to the fruits of the Spirit: refreshing the soul, giving wisdom to the simple, rejoicing the heart, enlightening the eye, enduring forever. The aim of this Law is about incarnated life, as our God is a God of Life, concerned with our concrete lives. He wants to feed us, to meet our deepest desires.
The Law of God is not first of all about prohibitions; it is about creation and growth – human and spiritual growth. We are invited to “keep holy the Sabbath day” as the Creator rested after the first six days of Creation.
But the second reading, and moreover the Gospel, help us to understand and integrate what could be called “the paschal dimension of the law”. Because with Paul we proclaim “Christ crucified”; the driving force of the law of liberation that is a path to true life is also a path of weakness, a path of renunciation. The logic of God is different from the logic of human beings. It is not about money, profit, or human gains as if we were in a marketplace. It is about the logic of life, the perspective of following the true path of Life, which is a path of freedom reflecting the logic of the Scripture.
The law of life is the law of the cross leading from Passion to Resurrection. The Law of God is the law of the Passover, and each Lenten Season is for us the School of Life that teaches us the Law of the Passover, which is a practical law for our daily life.
May we ourselves become the “temple of his body” to be more and more students and teachers of Life.
The readings for the Third Sunday of Lent, Year B, are
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
Sr. Nathalie Becquart is a Xaviere Sister and has spent a time in their Toronto community. She has served in the past as Director of the National Service for the Evangelization of Youth and Vocations for the French Bishops’ Conference and also as Consultor to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. She has recently been appointed by Pope Francis to the position of Under-Secretary to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops and is living in Rome.