Scripture Reflection for 3rd Sunday of Lent
I'm going to try something new. For a while we have been posting the novitiate scripture sharings in the Novitiate Corner on our website. Now I'll be posting them here too. I hope you find them a source of inspiration!
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a piece of fine art depicting the cleansing of the Temple?” we asked ourselves this Sunday. How powerful it would be to see the anger, grief, holiness, and majesty of Jesus Christ as He confronts the people who have been making His Father’s house a marketplace! Our whole discussion centered upon the Gospel passage and its meaning, both in the context of Jesus’ earthly existence and of our own lives.
Sr. Rose Marie brought a reflection from the opening pages of Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth, which called our attention to Jesus’ “going up to Jerusalem” for the feast of Passover, which is the context of His cleansing of the Temple. Much more than being simply a physical ascent (which it is), it symbolizes the Christ’s ascent to the Father through the course of His life, His ascent to “loving to the end.” As Jesus goes up to Jerusalem and drives the vendors out of the Temple courts, He is illustrating in symbol what He does with His life and passion. Through the Cross, Jesus “goes up” to the true Temple, not made by human hands – His glorified body – and cleanses us to be part of it.
Sr. Mary Andrea brought a similar insight: Jesus tells us, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” How shocking! Of course we know that He is speaking of His body, but not merely His physical body which rose again on that first Easter morning. He speaks too of His mystical body, the Church; He raises her with Him into the glory of His Father’s love. But He is also speaking of you and me individually. He can and He does transform us into that Temple not made by human hands. But we each have a part to play. Even as He cleansed the earthly Temple, Jesus asked for help from the dove-sellers, “Take these out of here!” He asks us to help Him cleanse our Temple courts of all that keeps us from being true and living tabernacles of the Holy Spirit.
Sr. Cecilia Maria was intrigued at how the Gospel story illustrates St. Paul’s beautiful verse from the second reading, “The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” As Jesus drives out the vendors, He is using human strength and is actually acting like the powerful Messiah so many awaited, but His human power is useless to convince anyone that He is the Christ. This is true not only of the cleansing, but also of His miracles and even His transfiguration. People still asked for a sign, and they saw folly and instigation, or at best wonder-working, in His actions. However, Jesus points to His Passion and Resurrection as the sign which will be given. The Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection are certainly foolish and weak by human measures! Yet through the ages, they have been stronger than all human strength and wiser than all human wisdom.
Anne and Sr. Mary Veronica expounded upon the poignant last paragraph of our Gospel. “Jesus would not trust Himself to them because He knew them all….” Alas for our fickle human nature, that renders the same souls who begin to believe in the Son of God to turn upon Him three years later and to condemn Him to death! Christ comes to me every day, every hour, and He longs to give Himself to me. Can He trust Himself to me? Am I open enough to receive Him? Do I welcome Him as King of my heart no matter what; do I cling to Him, no matter what that means and no matter where He leads me?
Let us each love Him to the end, that He may abide in us and us in Him forever!