Ex 20:1-17 or 20:1-3, 7-8, 12-17/1 Cor 1:22-25/Jn 2:13-25
Our Gospel passage today is full of significance for our Lenten journey. The Jesus that we encounter here may cause us to wonder. This is not the Jesus we have followed who is full of compassion and mercy and who extols the gentle-hearted. This Jesus is filled with righteous indignation, a “holy anger”, at the degradation of the Temple into a market place that hides the true holiness of this space. Jesus cleanses the area and restores the focus of prayer and God’s presence.
When challenged, Jesus utters a prophetic answer, though those who first heard it did not grasp the meaning of His words. How unbelievable for someone to claim that they can build an imposing temple in three days! Soon enough, however, it will be fulfilled in the dramatic events that these very people will witness.
I think that Scripture always leaves us with questions about our own lives. St. Paul tells us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Have our lives become cluttered and noisy with things that are distractions from what is truly important? If so, Lent is the time we are called upon to “cleanse” ourselves of those distractions and to re-focus our lives on prayer and God’s presence.
Another challenge is to ask ourselves if we are consumed with “zeal” for our faith and living the life of a disciple. The danger here is that it often requires us to get out of our comfort zone because God sometimes calls us to go places we would rather not go. The Christian life cannot be passive. We must be active and intentional about living out our faith. If it doesn’t always make sense to us, remember the words of St. Paul in our second reading: “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”
– Fr. Larry Snyder is the Vice President for Mission at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Catholic Rural Life.