THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
First reading: Ex 20:1-17
Second reading: 1Cor 1: 22-25
Gospel: Jn 2:13-25
Has Jesus not been born in a poor and humble condition?
Didn’t he say: “Learn from me: I am meek and humble of heart”?
Nevertheless, the Gospel of this third Sunday of Lent shows us a different behaviour of Jesus. The one, who will be “like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers never opening its mouth” (Is 53,7), in this occasion speaks so hardly to the pigeon-sellers. The one, who will receive a slap in his face from the guards in return for what he had said to the high priest (cfr Jn 18,22), now “makes a whip out of some cord and knocks the tables over”.
We could ask ourselves: why? Why this strange change in Jesus’ behaviour?
As a sign to justify his actions and words, Jesus says: “Destroy this sanctuary and in three days I will raise it up”. The evangelist explains to us that “he was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body”. In fact, Jesus will live his Passion and his body will receive marks and bruises, till the point of breathing its last on the cross. So, Jesus was not trying to defend his own body.
Moreover, selling animals for sacrifice and money changes were according to the Law. (Lv 5:7; 12:8)
Our question remains open: why has Jesus got this behaviour?
When Jesus sees the animals and money changers, he says: “Take all this out of here and stop turning my Father’s house into a market”. Something good can become less good and even be able to transform God’s house into a market-place.
It can happen also to us, can’t it? When we spend time in doing something that is good, but does not belong to our own mission, we are allowing “some animals and money changers” to enter our heart.
For example, playing football is a good thing, but if a boy spends all afternoon playing instead of studying, sport loses its positive meaning, because the boy gets far from his duties. Or watching TV is a good opportunity to know what happens throughout the world, but if a woman spends most of her time watching movies instead of doing housework or taking care of her children and husband, she is doing something that is not her priority. The same thing can happen to a man, who overworks and comes back home keeping on thinking on his job, instead of staying with his children and his wife. If a priest considers it a priority to clean his presbytery instead of helping his parishioners to have their souls clean through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, he is wasting time and strengths. The same thing can happen also to a nun, when she does not show God’s primacy through her witness, behaviour and words. In all these situations we can notice that something good in itself is used improperly.
So, in today’s Gospel Jesus is defending our own body, our own lives. We are temple of God, sanctuary of the Lord, tabernacle of the Divine Presence. We are bearers of God’s image! (cfr.1Cor 3:16). Jesus shows us that we are precious in his sight, he is on our side and he is the first to fight our battles. He also teaches us that sometimes anger could be a right thing, if it helps us to make of our hearts the Father’s house and not a market-place.