THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
Here we are at the third Sunday of Lent, how have your Lenten observances been going I hope that the going has not been too hard, keep up the good work .
In the gospel for this Sunday John paints a picture of an angry Jesus, entering the symbol of Israel’s security the temple in Jerusalem, whip in hand, driving out those who had turned the Temple into the centre of a money-making racket. As you may know, the Temple was the only place of sacrifice for the Jews. Sacrifice meant the offering to God of that which God created, whether in the form of wheat or grapes, doves or lambs, depending on the purpose of the sacrifice. Sacrifice meant the offering of life on behalf of individuals and families and once a year, on the Day of Atonement, on behalf of the nation itself.
The racket Jesus encountered was rather clever. For example, when a family brought its sacrifice to the Temple. It had to be inspected to make sure that it was of high enough quality to be acceptable. If the object was rejected, there were substitutes available at a price. When the head of the family offered payment, his money was rejected because it was the usual Roman coinage. Yet, guess what? These coins could be exchanged for pure Temple currency, at a price. Those of us who have travelled abroad know how annoying it is to find our dollars exchanged for a foreign currency and having to pay the exchange rate. So something meant to be holy, special, unique, had been turned into a crooked commercial transaction. Jesus was furious. There’s no “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” in the gospel today. Jesus, whip in hand drives out these crooked merchants, many of whom were priests.
Catechism Theme: Jesus and the Temple (CCC 583-586)
Jesus had the deepest respect for the Temple and its traditions. According to John, Jesus went to the Temple to celebrate various holy day festivals (John 2:13-14; 5:1, 14; 7:1, 10, 14; 10:22-23). He even cleansed the Temple courtyard out of respect for what the Temple meant: God’s dwelling place on earth. However, Jesus saw beyond the Temple and the nation it represented. The parochial interests of the Jewish leadership would soon lead to the destruction of the Jerusalem and its Temple. But, the message of Judaism was too important to keep to the nation itself. The God of Israel was truly the God of all. There was, however, another reason to predict the destruction of the Temple (Matthew 24:1-2). The destruction of the Temple was another sign for the coming of the end time, which began with the death of Christ on the cross. His Risen Body replaced Temple and became a home for all believers, a safe haven for all who awaited the Day of Yahweh.
God gives us signs as anchors of faith. But, at some point, we must trust the Lord enough to cut ourselves from the anchors we hold on to and allow him to guide us through rough currents that we often have to swim against. In our lives we have many things and events which could overwhelm us but they don’t because of our trust is in god and in the things of god.
Very often Faith will cause scandal and in recent times we have been reminded of this very forcefully indeed in Ireland and in many other countries throughout the world . Do we waver in the face of scandal? Or, do we redouble our efforts in faith? In the end, a faith that survives scandal is the toughest faith of all. We pray particularly for all those who have been hurt by the scandals and the scandalous actions of individuals within in our church. There are many good things and people within the church at large but as we know everything has not been good and more often than not the good has been tarnished by the bad.
Being a person of faith was never meant to be easy and is certainly not easy at the present time but this is our calling as members of the Church, which is the body of Christ, the calling is to try to remain Gods faithful people as best we can in what are very trying times for people who are trying to live out their faith in the circumstances of their daily lives.