Sunday Reflections

3rd Sunday of Lent – March 3, 2024

Reflection by:

Reflection by:

Wanda Cakebread, Apostle of the Resurrection

Imagine you are quietly waiting and reflecting before Mass begins. All of a sudden, there is a loud crashing sound at the back of the church. A table is overturned and contents are scattered all over the floor… some items are broken, others still intact.

Who is this person? Why are they creating this loud, noisy, ruckus? What right do they have to disrupt your life?

Now, imagine that this person is Jesus. How does that change the meaning of that event? Why did Jesus react in such an angry manner? This behaviour seems out of character with how Jesus is portrayed in the  gospels…Why? Why now?

Now let us examine what has brought Jesus to such a violent act in the Temple.

The First Reading is from the Book of Exodus when God made a Covenant with the chosen people. The Ten Commandments which were provided for the people described their relationship with God and their relationship with their fellow human beings. The first three commandments declare that “I am the Lord thy God and you will not worship any other gods; you will not use the Lord’s name in vain and you will keep the Sabbath holy.” When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, a holy place, he saw that people had built and were worshiping a golden calf.  They had created their own god. How sacrilegious!

In John 2:13-22, Jesus enters the Temple to prepare for the coming Passover. The temple in Jerusalem was a meeting place between the God of Israel and God’s chosen people. It was a place where human life and divine blessing met. Sacrifices were offered during religious festivals and special times in peoples’ lives. The temple was a holy place.

In the temple, Jesus found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Pilgrims were wandering through the stalls looking to purchase an animal offering or to find a priest to complete the sacrificial rituals.

Making a whip of cords, Jesus drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”

What had caused Jesus to react in such a forceful and rage-filled way? He saw that the atmosphere and tone of the Temple was not treated as a holy place. Business and other financial activities were going on with little focus on the spiritual.

Some of the anger may have been directed at the high priests who in spite of Jesus’ many miracles and teachings did not seem to ‘get the message’. Furthermore, this Passover would be Jesus’ final one as the Crucifixion would be happening soon. There seems to be an urgency in Jesus’ desire to complete his mission on earth since the time was running out.

Everyone is startled as Jesus brings temple activity to a standstill in order to point to another holy place altogether. They challenge Jesus, questioning his authority to do such a thing. “Destroy this temple,” Jesus says, “and in three days, I will raise it up.” Jesus is foreshadowing his passion, death and resurrection to come.

In John’s Gospel, the body of Jesus is the new holy place. John writes “The Word became flesh and lived amongst us”. In the incarnation, with the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, God’s dwelling place is with human beings, as a human being. Jesus now reveals his true identity; he is the Son of God, but the high priests and Pharisees misunderstood or refused to believe him.

Where does God meet you? Is the meeting place a church filled with fellow parishioners? Or in solitary meditation? In the midst of the homeless or at the bedside of a hospitalized loved one? Do you encounter God in the Holy Scriptures?

Do you see God in a candle flame? Do you know the transcendent through a piece of music? Maybe you recognize God in the water, bread and wine of the Sacraments?

Possibly your holy place is a hike in the woods or a vista that puts you in the presence of God. Maybe it is silence. When I experience a gentle breeze or a turbulent wind, I feel and remember God’s presence in my life.

As we walk the path to Jerusalem during Lent, we join crowds of pilgrims from millennia-past, preparing for Easter by cleansing our own temple. The distractions or false gods we create or follow may be materialism, commercialism, or acquisition of wealth. We may crave power, status, fame, or success. Throughout history, humanity is called to let go of attachments to false gods and embrace the one true God. We need to come to Jesus.

Worshipping in Spirit and truth wherever we may be, we see God’s glory by remembering God’s unconditional love made manifest in Jesus.

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