Commentary on the Epistle and Gospel of the 3rd Sunday of Lent


Context: The doctrine expounded in Ephesians is the pre-eminence of Christ and the intimacy of our union with Him in the Mystical Body. This intimacy demands that we avoid all the vices of our former unregenerate state, replacing them with Christian virtues. In this moral section of the Epistle, Paul is enumerating particular vices and dangers against which the faithful must guard.

Text: Be imitators of God: as children of God, Christians must resemble Him, and especially in the virtue of love so eminently exemplified in Christ’s death for us.

There follows a list of six terms describing various forms of immodesty, in act or word or thought (covetousness referring to evil desires). These are not even to be mentioned among them as unbecoming to Christians, but to be replaced by sentiments and words of thankfulness to God. The motive: those defiled by immodesty cannot enter the kingdom established by the blood of Christ our God.

For that is idolatry: he who is covetous makes gold, or here perhaps lust, his God.

Lead you astray with empty words: the false teachers were then disturbing the Christian communities in western Asia Minor.

Because of these things: the species of immorality just mentioned.

Children of disobedience: those who resist God’s will.

Partakers: Christians must avoid the sinful actions of their pagan neighbours.

Darkness: their unregenerate past which experienced these sins.

Light: their new sphere, whose fruits are goodness as opposed to sinfulness, justice as opposed to dishonest dealings, truth as opposed to lying.


Context: The events recorded in today’s Gospel took place in the second year of our Lord’s public ministry. It consists of three parts: the blasphemy of the Pharisees about Jesus’ union with Beelzebub, the return of the unclean spirit to take possession of a man, and the praise of Mary.

The choice of today’s Gospel was based on the circumstances that the solemn exorcism of catechumens took place on this Sunday, when they renounced Satan, all his works and all his pomps. The Gospel was to point out to them Jesus’ triumphant struggle against Satan. It is uncertain whether the praise of Mary was originally included.


Text: The same was dumb: because of the effect that the devil had wrought upon his victim, he as well as the man is referred to as being dumb.

Beelzebub: means lord of flies. Mentioned in the Old Testament as the god of Accaron, it was considered as the god who warded off flies. At the time of our Lord, the Jews applied the name to the prince of devils. The blasphemous accusation was made to suppress the enthusiasm of the people for Jesus and destroy their faith in Him.

Every kingdom divided against itself, etc: unity is an essential quality for the existence of any society; a society divided by discord will soon come to ruin.

If, then Satan, also is divided against himself, etc: it would be a contradiction for Satan to cooperate with anyone in the destruction of his kingdom.

Then the kingdom of God has come upon you: i.e. the messianic kingdom was being established and the kingdom of Satan was being destroyed.

The strong man: Satan, the prince of this world (John 12, 31), held men as his slaves by reason of sin.

If a stronger than he: Jesus overcame the power of Satan, and His fellow-combatants will share in the joys and fruits of His victory. He who is not with me, etc: in this raging conflict man must make up his mind what army he will join, since neutrality is impossible.

The last state of that man becomes worse than the first: the conqueror of Satan was Jesus, but now Israel’s unfaithfulness and pride was leading to a second and worse estrangement from God than before.

Rather, blessed are they who hear, etc: Jesus does not deny that His Mother is blessed, but stressed the fact that obedience to God’s word constitutes a spiritual relationship which is above carnal relationship, and thus He commends His Mother above all (cf. also Luke 8, 21).