3rd Sunday of Lent
7th March 2021
Year B – Psalter week 3
It is fair to say that Jesus always generated quite a reaction wherever he went, by his healings, teachings, forgiveness, and the love he showed for all.
But today, at the temple in Jerusalem, we hear of Jesus making quite a different scene, knocking over tables and scattering coins. It seems to be a very different Jesus, had he changed for some reason – so were his emotions now driven by anger and frustration, or still out of that same love.
What was the situation that Jesus faced? Well, the temple at the time – in fact the whole of Jerusalem – would have been overrun with people visiting for the great Passover celebrations. This was the greatest of the Jewish feasts, and it would have drawn pilgrims from far and wide to what was the capital city of the Jewish people.
Because of the distances that so many would have travelled, they did not bring with them an animal for sacrifice, and so needed to be able to buy them in Jerusalem. That was not quite so straight forward, as to do this they needed to change the various coins that they had carried with them, bearing images of false Gods’ or rulers, into the standard Temple currency. So, there was clearly a need for animal sellers and money changers to help visitors participate in the Passover celebrations.
But, over a period of time, what had started out as support for the religious practices of the day, had now turned into something very different. Animals for religious sacrifice were now no more that a commodity to be traded by businesses for the highest profit, and the money changers were selling at exorbitant rates of exchange.
The sin of the traders troubled Jesus, because he knew they were offending his Father and they did not even realise. They had gotten so used to this way of life and could no longer see the effect or implications of their actions.
All the sellers in the Temple that day, would not have been there from day one, but the situation would have gotten much worse over a period of time, one merchant and one money changer at a time.
Jesus realised that it would not work to simply try to gather the sellers and money changers around him to explain the error of their ways, and so the situation called for more impact, for Jesus always knows the right thing to say at the right time. Jesus did not lose control or even get unnecessarily angry, for he acted out of love for the sinner and hatred of sin.
By his actions Jesus showed his love for his Father, whose home they were in, and showed that he loved the people so much, by passionately identifying and rebuking their sin so that they could learn and repent. His ultimate goal was to bring them closer to his Father through him.
In truth, our lives can also become a bit like the traders and money changers and can get cluttered and overrun in many ways that we never originally planned. Just as Jesus actually cleaned out the Temple, we also need to be just as radical sometimes, and take a long hard look at every aspect of our own lives.
Lent is of course a great time to stop and take stock of our own lives and to see if we have got into any bad habits in our relationship with God and with others. Because, if we have neglected ‘doing something’ that we know we really should be doing, or if we do something that we know we should not for long-enough, then that just becomes normal in our lives and so we just carry on. This may be preoccupations with material things, indifference, or lack of love towards others, or temptations we no longer resist.
So, as we journey through lent, lets reflect on the parts of our lives that ‘Jesus’ would want to us change. What would he want to ‘chase out’ of our lives, what tables would he want us to overturn?
We should allow and encourage Jesus to speak directly, and firmly to us, so that we know what we need to change and repent for, and also ‘thank him’ for guiding us by his unconditional love of us.
We must strive not to get into bad habits, because bad habits just become ‘our normal habits’ and what ‘and who’ we are.
Let’s use the ‘grace of Lent’ to give our soul’s a through spring-clean, welcoming Jesus into the Temple of our lives, acknowledging his great and genuine love and mercy for us, and asking him to guide and show us his plan for our roles in the parish, in our families and our communities.
You, Lord have the message of eternal life
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
The crucified Christ, the power and wisdom of God
Destroy this sanctury and in three days I will raise it up
Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!
I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord;
whoever believes in me will never die.
Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!