Zeal for Your House Will Consume Me

Feb 27, 2018

Gospel Reflection, Third Sunday of Lent, Year B

Zeal for Your House Will Consume Me

When I think about Jesus overturning the money changers in the Temple, I ask myself some very serious questions.  If we know that this gospel somehow applies to us, how does it apply?  The money changers were doing a seemingly legitimate thing.  They were exchanging foreign coins for coins offered that were the currency of the local area.  And others were selling pigeons for sacrifice offerings according to Jewish customs.  So, what is God saying to us, then, in light of these seemingly legitimate activities?  Would Jesus overturn the Scrip table?  Would he overturn the KC’s Valentine’s Dinner Dance ticket sales table or the coffee and doughnuts in the gathering space table?  Or how about those parish festival raffle tickets – gambling in church?  I am not picking on any one thing, but I am saying this for effect, to allow us to ask seriously whether this gospel does indeed have anything to do with us or not.

But then I think about what my first pastor said when I brought this question up to him.  He spoke of how we are not dead.  There is room for inculturation here.  And having popular activities helps us to get to know one another and live out our faith in a human way. 

Still, the better bet is that there is something that Jesus is calling us to.  In my reflection as a pastor, I have often thought back to when I was a child and I would attend Mass with my parents or with my grandmother.  There was always a period of silence before Mass that we and others around us thought of as important.  There was a sense of urgency to get into church sufficiently early in order to have this time. 

So as a pastor, I believe that the best practical way to recognize this gospel for what it has to say to us and to have inculturation at the same time, is to come into Mass early and have our conversation, our sales, and our signing up for faith formation and other opportunities after Mass.  The Mass should give us great joy and a desire to live out our lives in communion with each other.  I really love the time after Mass in which we converse with one another because I feel a great sense that we have just celebrated our communion in Christ.

On the other hand, if we do not come into church to quiet ourselves, and if we insist on chit-chatting before Mass right up until the opening song, then we, unfortunately, I believe, come with hearts that are not yet stilled.  When we silence ourselves before Mass we form attentiveness where beautiful and truly important things can be received at the depths of our being.  Thus, praying before Mass is a way of being all there, in communion with each other, as God’s people before him, receptive, alert, and ready to receive all that the Lord has to offer us.  The words that we hear must not degenerate into mere talk, but rather the truth of God and redeemed humanity which is meant to blaze.

I ask you, please arrive ten minutes early to simply take in the sights and sounds in church.  Acknowledge his loving presence there and, time permitting, thank him for it and say to him that you love him too. 

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta puts it this way: “In the silence of the heart God speaks.  If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.  Then you will know that you are nothing.  It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”  God bless you all!

Father Tony