Third Sunday in Lent

By Matthew B. Harper

Exodus 20:13 – You shall not murder

All of us have broken a commandment or two. We have lied, or coveted, and surely we have treated our parents with disrespect at one time or another. Some will even confess to adultery. But we console ourselves by saying that these are only ‘minor’ commandments. Well I write to you today as a murderer serving time in prison. That’s a major commandment by anybody’s standard.

But the truth is that there are no distinctions in the commandments of God. The Exodus story calls the last commandment as important as the first. In the eyes of God we are sinners, and all of us need the mercy of God through Christ.

Paul makes a distinction between our lives of flesh and spirit. In the flesh I serve my time in prison, so be it. But no time in prison can repay even a tenth of the crime that I have committed. It is only by the mercy of God that in the spirit I am justified.

And yet no mercy of God can still in me the nature to sin. Even Paul bemoaned the fact that he did those things that he did not wish to. Our flesh is weak, and we all succumb to temptation more than we ought. By the grace of God we are given the strength to overcome much of this nature and to become children of God.

Be careful how we judge others, for all of us are found wanting. We live in the world, and there must be justice and punishments of the world, but we cannot let ourselves think that this is the justice of God. All are found wanting in the eyes of God, and by the mercy of God all who ask will be forgiven.

Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to thy body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, and the Holy Spirit. Amen” BCP167

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