Gospel – John 2 : 13 – 25
Our first reading from Exodus tells of God giving the Ten Commandments to Moses. With the first commandment, God elaborates on his desire that we be faithful to him. He describes himself as being a “jealous God.” He wants nothing to distract us from loving Him and being faithful to him. The second and third commandment build on this by instructing us “You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain” and “Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.” These first three commandments make it clear that our relationship with God calls for total and complete faithfulness on our part. God will not accept the role of being second fiddle to anyone or anything else in our life. God speaks with great force about this expectation of faithfulness on our part and this message is repeated throughout the Old Testament by the various prophets sent to call the people of Israel back to God whenever they wandered away. In the Gospel we see Jesus not only speaking this message but also acting out that desire in the Temple.
Jesus’ presence ushered in the New Covenant and the presence of God’s Kingdom in our lives. This is grounded in God’s call for total love and fidelity as we heard in Exodus. He confronts the people for using the temple not exclusively as the dwelling place of God, but also as a “den of thieves.” The jealousy of God for his people not to have divided hearts is present in Jesus, the word made flesh. In responding to their challenge of his authority Jesus responds by making the connection between the Temple of Jerusalem, (the home of the Ark of the Covenant,) and his body, (God incarnate.) “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” Following the Resurrection the disciples remembered what Jesus said and this helped them to understand his death and resurrection.
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus we are invited to be Baptized and become citizens of this kingdom. With this invitation comes the expectation of total fidelity. As citizens of Heaven we cannot have dual citizenship, we must be either all in the kingdom or out of the kingdom. There is no straddling between two kingdoms or ways of life or sets of values. Citizens of God’s Kingdom become sons and daughters of God the Father, brothers and sisters of Jesus, and we ourselves become temples of the Holy Spirit.
Lent is a time for us to reflect on how we are living our faith. Do I put God above all else? Do I seek the Kingdom of Heaven first in my life? Am I a faithful citizen of God’s Kingdom? Do I recognize God’s presence within me? Do I humble myself and ask forgiveness for my sins? Do I recognize and respect God’s presence in others? These questions as well as the various Lenten practices can help us make an honest evaluation of our lives in Christ. This could result in our coming face to face with the challenge of changing our lives to become more faithful. Accept the challenge and you will be greatly blessed when we celebrate the Triduum.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.