March 8th, 2015 – Third Sunday of Lent – Year B

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Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. He quickly responds to the appalling acts taking place in the temple with holy audacity, righteous anger, and consuming zeal. Just as Jesus clears the temple, if we are living temples of the Holy Spirit, let us ask what abominations are taking place in us: What idols have we erected? What image do we worship? Do we worship the image of status, of intelligence, of control, of physical beauty, or the image of success? It can be hard to believe that we can change. Yet, Christ encourages us to be audacious with Him, and to beg for mercy! Christ is more powerful than our sin. All things are possible for those who believe.

The loneliness of sinners, cut off from the love of God by their actions, is made even more poignant by the clear choice that God offers in both the readings and prayers. The commandments are not onerous and the love of God not easily contained, as the cleansing of the temple makes clear. And yet, these simple truths of the paschal mystery, of Christ crucified, Paul labels as challenges. The prayers for this day focus on the need to be aware of our sinfulness, aware of our need for God’s forgiveness in Christ, and truly aware of the help that God offers us in our time of penance.

It is not complicated, not rocket science as they say, and this should give us hope. It makes it possible to dwell for a time on our sinfulness and need for forgiveness, confident that we can change with God’s help. Do not try to obscure the need to think about sin, commandment, and change. At the same time, do not let the celebration be without hope, for the one who cleansed the temple of all that was corrupt is the same one who will offer his life for our salvation.