In our Gospel Jesus, who is often described as “meek and humble of heart,” made “a whip out of cords and drove them (merchants and money changers) out of the temple area. …Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His words and actions took place in the Temple, yet he called it “my Father’s house.” Jesus’ message is crystal clear: what is going on in the Temple area is no longer appropriate for “his Father’s house.”
This incident tells us something about Jesus and something about ourselves. People can be measured by what angers them. While anger can be dangerous, it can provide the respectable and desirable energy to reform and improve. Anger can become the primary Lenten emotion and form the basis for a series of reflective questions. We get angry when we are stalled in traffic, or treated poorly in commercial establishments, but are we angry over poverty, starvation, homelessness, violence, or corruption? Allow Lent to become the Church’s official time to get angry enough to overturn old tables and set up new ones. What new tables might we set up? Start with these five:
First, love things that are worth loving. Some things are not worth loving---cars, electronics, clothes or celebrities. The things worth loving are God, family, friends, and faith to name a few. (1) I will love things worth loving!
Second, put first things first. Jesus reminds us, “Seek first his Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” [Matthew 5:20] Celebrating the Eucharist on Sunday comes first before anything else. Putting vacation plans, sports activities, or social events before that, is not a Catholic priority. Being present to family, children, and those in need comes before any of our leisure activities. (2) I will put first things first!
Third, cultivate spiritual insight. This means seeing beyond the realities we can see, or the stuff of the buildings in which we live, to the ultimate spiritual reality behind everything, which is God. It means seeing our brothers and sisters as they really are, as children of God made in his image and likeness, and treating them accordingly. (3) I will cultivate spiritual insight!
Fourth, remember to never do anything to damage your integrity, which means to avoid whatever compromises our integrity. In all our undertakings, avoid those actions that will put us ahead of others at their expense. In plain English, don’t do anything to get ahead at the expense of others. (4) I will strive for integrity of character!
Fifth, become involved in causes that benefit the community and require our loyalty. Support organizations like: Bread for the World, Pax Christi, Save the Children, or Catholic Relief Services to help our struggling brothers and sisters in all parts of the world. Engage in activities that will promote turning the Temple back into ‘my Father’s house.” (5) I will enlist in causes that benefit others!
Let our Lenten anger provide us with the energy we need to set up new tables that will stand long after this Lenten journey is over. [Much of the information for this reflection came from, “Once Upon A Gospel,” by William Bausch, Twenty-Third Publications, 2008, Pgs. 84-86.]
----Deacon Wilson Shierk