Third Wednesday of Lent

March 7, 2018 / By: Gregory Coulter

Dt 4:1, 5-9/Mt 5:17-19

One hears from some quarters that the God of the Old Testament is harsh and demanding whereas in the New Testament, through Christ, we find a more benevolent God of acceptance, forgiveness and love. The readings for this day don’t quite fit with that interpretation of Sacred Scripture. In the gospel, Jesus warns; “whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.” One cannot hear such words without experiencing some level of apprehension about one’s future. It seems God is paying attention and keeping an account of our misdeeds. This sort of message could make Lent a burden to many of us, so much so that we can at times despair. Knowing that our sins burden our lives we might also come to the erroneous conclusion that our very lives are a burden. We might also be inclined to think that our only chance of salvation depends on us fixing ourselves. Such convictions make it difficult, if not impossible, to experience the joy and marvel of God’s gift of life to us. Lent appears not as an opportunity but as a punishment disguised as a challenge to perfect ourselves. It comes as much relief, therefore, to be reminded of a great joy from Deuteronomy in the first reading for today:

     what great nation is there
     that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us
     whenever we call upon him?

We are assured that God is near to us, within earshot as is a friend or family member. God is close to us, patiently waiting for our call, willing to help and anxious to console. As our advocate, God wishes to assist us in our preparation for the time when we are called to account for our lives. This is a side of God worth remembering, especially in the most difficult moments of Lent and of our lives.

Gregory Coulter
Associate Professor of Philosophy