Third Sunday of Lent
No Rest for the Good…
What a scene in today’s Gospel! Jesus goes to the Jerusalem temple, and finds it not so prayerful at all: it had taken on a commercial tone — a busy place with oxen, sheep, doves, money changers…a genuine ruckus! Something like today’s yard sales, or state fairs, or even some of the larger religious gatherings today for big celebrations. No wonder He felt compelled to zealously overturn the tables and “change things” … Time to get back to the basics!
As presented in today’s first reading from the Book of Exodus, God gave us the Ten Commandments to guide us in loving God, neighbor, and ourselves. In Jesus’ day, and for many of us today, the Temple / our Churches are to be places of true worship and sacrifice, helping us grow in love for God and one another as we enflesh the values in each of the Commandments. When life becomes more “commercialized” and we get too busy, the true spirit of prayer and sacrifice and love is compromised – and life seriously suffers. Lacking the true spirit of worship and sacrifice, we can easily forget our calling as God’s beloved people, and our mission to share God’s love in our needy world.
Lent is a prime-time opportunity to renew the spirit of prayer, awareness and outreach which are to be the heart of our lives as followers of Jesus. Especially for we members of the Passionist Family, we look to Jesus Crucified: as St. Paul states in the 2nd reading for some “…a stumbling block…foolishness…but to those called, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God…” His Life and Death enflesh the love that God shares with us — and likewise invites us to share with one another.
Jesus today challenges us to faith-filled love and sacrifice, to remember who we are as God’s family in the 21st Century…to not give into temptation and life’s commercialism and clutter…to love as He loves in thought, word, and deed. In this 3rd week of Lent, may God bless our Lenten program.
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is a member of the Passionist community in Chicago, Illinois.