Cleansing The Temple
Third Sunday of Lent
March 8, 2015
Readings: Exodus 20:1-17; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25; John 2:13-25
Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of scripture, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the scripture and the word Jesus had spoken. While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.
Meditation: Mary Robertson
Today’s gospel tells the story of Jesus clearing out the Temple of the moneychangers and those who sold oxen, sheep and doves for sacrifice. This image of Jesus—angry at the people, driving them out with whips and cords— is unexpected. Jesus seems to have ‘lost his cool’! Why? Perhaps the moneychangers and the merchants were out of control; perhaps they were overcharging people and in it just for the money. Something important must have been going on there.
The Temple was a sign of God’s presence among the people. A sign is defined in Merriam-Webster dictionary as “…an object, quality, event, or entity whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else.” No wonder Jesus got so mad at the people in the Temple. What they were doing was not a sign of the presence of God. We know that after Jesus died and rose, WE became the living sign of God’s presence among his people. If we use the definition above of a sign, then the qualities that we present to others should indicate the ‘presence of something else,’ namely Christ.
Everyday life is busy, and the mission to be Christ-like can be tested almost minute by minute. Getting a family out of bed, fed, organized and off to school can be a test of our patience; living with the suffering of a debilitating disease or being a caregiver can test our faith in a loving God; being unhappy in our marriage or our job, or working hard and not having enough money to give our families what we think they need can test our belief that God will take care of us.
How can I be a sign of Christ’s presence as I go about my daily tasks? I think one of the first things we can do is learn who Christ is. How did Jesus react to the poor? the outcast? the people who “know it all” and the very religious? Read the Bible, celebrate Mass weekly. After we have an idea of how Christ lived HIS life, then we can try to put it into practice in our own lives with the people that we meet. Talk to him in prayer, ask him your questions and listen to His answers. It involves trying and failing and finally trusting; trusting that God loves us so much and wants the best for us. Sometimes this happens sooner and sometimes this happens later. Eventually it happens though. And living in that triumph and recognizing what God has done and continues to do in our life is awesome! It is in our failures and weakness that God’s power can shine.
Even as someone who was raised Catholic and worked for the Church almost my whole adult life, I can sometimes still feel that once I get it ‘right’ and am ‘good enough,’ God will love me. But that is so far from the truth. God loves me first, and because He loves me I try to live a life of love as a sign to others of Christ’s loving presence. I embrace the test of daily life, trust in the victory of the cross and live the triumph!
Pray, Reflect, Discuss
Do you know someone who lives their life out of love for God and the good of others? What qualities does that person have?
Is it hard to die to our own ways of doing things and live like Christ? Does it become a ‘habit’? Does it become easier?
Is there a freedom that comes from letting go of our own human ways of doing things?