Third Sunday of Lent
Cleansing our Temples
We have already completed two weeks of lent and now we enter the third week. Like the desert (Lent week 1) and the mountain (week 2), the Temple is a place of special encounter with God. But today unlike last week at the transfiguration, we are not going to see the glorious face of Jesus; we are going to see his angry face. Jesus is not happy with what he sees precisely because the way the Temple worship has been organised no longer reflects God’s original idea of a worshipping community. Jesus enters the temple area only to discover the selling of sheep, oxen, doves, and the money changers. He drives out the animals, overturns the tables coins spill out on the floor. The Jewish leaders want a sign “What sign can you show us” Jesus replies “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up”. But Jesus was speaking of his own temple, his body. This was another step for Jesus on the road to Calvary.
It saddens us to see that today it almost seems as if we see in our churches the same thing that Our Lord saw. Some have been transformed into marketplaces with noisy liturgies. Sometimes our churches are very dirty and unkempt. Sometimes it seems that moments after having received the Body of Christ part of the community is already engaged in conversation as if they were in the central square of the town. Some are not even afraid to eat in church. Some go as far as answering their phone calls in Church. We cannot expound on the poor dressing codes that proliferate many places of worship in the name of “modernity”. This lack of respect for God, in his house, is what the Lord could not tolerate. The spectacle angered him. And we also are angered at times by what we see. But since many times getting people to change their ways is almost impossible, we leave “the temple” frustrated, asking the Lord to have mercy on all of us.
The Church must be a place of worship and especially after receiving communion we should spend a few minutes in conversation with the Lord so that we can thank him for everything that he has done for us and to ask him to protect us, and our families, once we leave the church.
In the same way, we must take care of our Bodies which is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 6:19 it says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you’re not your own? We’ve been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” Just as Jesus had zeal for his father’s house, the temple in Jerusalem, we too are to have zeal for God’s temple THIS ONE, ourselves. We were made the temple of God when we were baptized. God the Holy Spirit dwells in us.
During Lent it is our duty to cleanse our temple of everything that does not belong there, just as Jesus drove out the money changers and the animal brokers from His Father’s temple. We must make a whip of chords, just as Jesus did. In our heart we make a whip of cords by our fasting and our alms giving during Lent. There are some fundamental questions we must ask ourselves concerning the cleansing of our bodies: How have we fasted so far? Are we abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent? How are we in alms giving so far this Lent? Have we gone to confession this Lent?
Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
Please pray for me