Filled with lament over exhaustion, separation from family and friends, and the onslaught of false testimony, we hear the psalmist cry out, “Because zeal for your house has consumed me, I am scorned by those who scorn you.” In today’s world, we need look no farther than our own local communities to see the effects of those who still scorn the Lord and the grace of his truth. We witness gun violence, political disunity, and the pain exerted by those who judge and exclude others out of fear and a false sense of superiority. How do we respond? Do we allow the Spirit to energize us toward awakening change? Does injustice stir our consciences? Does zeal surface within us? In the Gospel this weekend, we meet Jesus in the temple area, visibly angered by moneychangers and merchants who have turned the holy sanctuary into a commercial plaza. He scatters coins, overturns tables, and forms a whip to chase out both people and animals. Jesus personally bears the wreckage of those who disregard truth and virtue, and zeal rouses him to act decisively and immediately. Pope Francis has commented that true faith must be marked by such a daring desire to change the world with the heart of Christ. The pope leaves Christians with these questions: “Do we have a great vision and impulse? Are we audacious? Does our dream soar high? Does our zeal consume us?”
Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the moneychangers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me…. While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.
Again we keep this solemn fast, a gift of faith from ages past,
this Lent which bids us lovingly to faith and hope and charity.
The law and prophets from of old in figured ways this Lent foretold,
which Christ, all ages’ Lord and Guide, in these last days has sanctified.
We pray, O blessed Three-in-One, our God while endless ages run,
that this, our Lent of forty days, may bring us growth and give you praise.