How surprising or even shocking would it be to see Jesus Christ with a whip made out of cord driving out of the temple sheep, cattle and dove and their sellers; scattering the coins of the money changers and knocking the tables over. It would be surprising to behold such incident as we, as well as the Jews present in that event, would never expect that kind of thing being performed by Jesus Himself; and, shocking as we could not imagine how a loving God could be so angry and emotional as to drive out some people from such a holy place. Yet that was what exactly happened two thousand years ago as the gospel tells us. The Jews who witnessed such event and even us who imagine what happened in the temple could only say that Jesus got angry as to do such unimaginable thing within the temple.
If we examine the kind of worship that we have today and the attitude that we show towards our brethren, we can say that somehow we are like the Jews in the temple who disrespect our Heavenly Father and sometimes make hard the lives of others. Many of us enter the church building without anymore the awareness of entering into a sacred place. We fail to recognize that the church is the house of our heavenly Father. We even ignore such fact and convince ourselves that the church building is like any other place where we can do anything that we like. When we attend the Holy Mass, it seems that we are only attending an ordinary activity. Without wearing a proper and descent dress, we enter the church and talk to our companions while the mass is still going on. We never listen to the readings and the homily. Many do not even enter the church but just stay in the church’s patio.
Only very few of us avail the Sacrament of Confession so much so that very few accept the Holy Communion which is the fullness of the union with Christ. We never realize that it is through the Holy Communion that we receive Jesus Christ and that He is made more present to us. Worse still is when we use the church for our own personal intentions. Some of us attend the Holy Mass, the Sacrament of Baptism or the Sacrament of the Matrimony just to be seen by the people or to establish a social and political relationship with other people. Others donate things or money to the church but with the condition that their names are inscribed in the things donated or mentioned during the Sunday celebration of the Mass in which many people can witness their generosity. All these ways of desecrating the house of God and using religion arouse the holy anger of Christ.
Christ holy anger is even more aggravated by the way many of us use and abuse our brethren. Our society is populated by the poor people who journey on this earth as pilgrims. These poor people are not only those who are economically destitute, but also those who suffer injustice, discrimination, and other forms of social evils. They are also those who are sick and suffering, imprisoned and isolated, oppressed and marginalized. The simple acts of ignoring the needs of these people and disregarding their existence are a manifestation of our mistreatment towards them who are our brethren in Christ. But other people even abuse them by robbing the few rights that they have through the corruption in the government, by buying the little properties that they own for a very few and discounted amount of money, by asking so much from them for the service rendered to them, and by denying them their rights for proper education, communication and transportation. All these and other abuses to our brethren provoke the holy anger of Christ.
For desecrating the church of God and abusing our poor brethren, Christ has only one message to us: “Stop using my Father’s house!” During this Lenten season, we need to examine ourselves and redirect our lives. We cannot claim to be true Christians unless we give to God His due respect and adoration. We cannot be true followers of Christ unless we sacrifice our selfish desires and care for our brethren by addressing their needs especially those of our poor and suffering neighbors. This Lenten season is the time to repent and change our lives. We have to stop using God and His church or religion; we need to stop abusing our unfortunate brethren. Let us then turn our eyes to our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary. She dedicated all her life in loving God and serving her fellow men. May through her intercessions we become obedient to the will of God, faithful to the teachings of Christ and caring to our suffering brethren so as for us to become truly children of God.
THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
(Violet) Cycle B/Year I (March 7, 2023)
Ex 20:1-17/1 Cor 1:22-25/Jn 2:13-25