March 15, 2009
Third Sunday of Lent
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 moneychangers 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 moneychangers 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.
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe in your incarnation: that you came to teach us, suffer for us and show us the way home to heaven. I trust in your utter goodness and mercy and am confident that you are leading me always. I love you and wish to make you known to many others, so they can be filled with the peace and joy that only you can give. Here I am now, ready and longing to encounter you through this meditation.
Petition: Lord, purify me!
1. “Zeal for Your House Will Consume Me.”
When they witnessed Jesus cleansing the Temple, the apostles remembered the words from Psalm 69: “It is zeal for your house that has consumed me” (Psalm 69:9). Through his zeal — his passionate love for God’s house — Jesus fulfills the words from the Old Testament. He takes possession of his own house, the Temple, and he evicts all of those who are making it a place of commerce. In doing so Christ teaches us that our faith must also be pure from all selfish, pragmatic concerns. We must be purified to grow in our friendship with Christ.
2. Destroy this Temple
Jesus’ teachings about the Temple also show us the path to interior purification: the Paschal Mystery. He refers to his death and resurrection when he says, “Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up.” Not only does he fulfill the Old Testament in this Gospel passage, but he also gives us the example and the key to our own purification: We must die to ourselves in order to have life! We must cast out the concerns and “commerce” that dominate our hearts and minds even during times of prayer. Only through purification can we can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.
3. Jesus Knows
Jesus does not need anyone to tell him about human nature. He knows it well. He knows how hard it is to break away from what is merely human and to elevate all we do to a spiritual level. When he was on earth, he experienced the struggle and the temptations we face. Through his unfailing example he taught us how to live. He taught us to be radical in choosing God in our lives and courageous in putting him first. We need to put him first in our work, family and personal lives. When we can put God first, then we can truly be temples of the Holy Spirit.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you know how we become weighed down with mere human concerns; yet you desire much more for us. Help me to follow your example and be radical in my interior life. Give me the strength to put you above all other worries and concerns.
Resolution: Lord, today I will weigh what really is first in my life against what ought to be first in my life, and I will take a specific step to reestablish the proper order.
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