Tag Archives: Third Sunday of Lent

Third Sunday of Lent: Booting out what’s not of God!

35_jesus-cleanses-the-temple_1800x1200_300dpi_2The cleansing of the Temple is an appropriate Gospel reading for Lent. The work of Lent is very similar – driving out what’s not of God!

For Jesus the Temple was important. He called the Temple nothing less than “my Father’s house” and he forcibly removed people he considered to be acting offensively. It’s quite a scene if not a little out of character; “he scattered the money changers’ coins” and “knocked their tables over…”

It’s a wake-up call for those who’d think that the Temple, or logically by extension the Church as we have it today, can somehow be disconnected from the person of Jesus Christ. On the contrary, the disciples understand the cleansing as zeal for God’s house devouring Jesus of Nazareth.

Interestingly Jesus doesn’t turn against the Temple, rather he turns against the men and women disfiguring God’s house. That men and women have disfigured the Temple is no reason to turn against the Temple.

When the Jews challenge his cleansing his reply is intriguing.

He turns the conversation to himself, to his own body which he calls “this sanctuary” and declares: I am acting like this because I am the fulfilment of the Temple – I am the true sanctuary of the Temple – and my resurrection will be all the proof you need.

Just as Jesus is the true sanctuary of the Temple so he is the true sanctuary of the Church.

Just as the Temple was disfigured by the sins of men so is the Church disfigured by the sins of men. Indeed, even Christ on the Cross is disfigured by the sins of men. That’ll never change.

The problem is neither the Temple nor the Church, but the human heart. In the same way for example, speaking of Ireland’s economic collapse, the problem is not bankers, the problem is the human heart. This is the doctrine of Original Sin. It makes so much sense.

Just as Jesus didn’t abandon the Temple so he will not abandon the Church, rather he calls each one of us to boot out what’s not of God so that the world can see more clearly that this sanctuary here – the one I’m standing in now – is the sanctuary of Christ’s body and blood.

Third Sunday of Lent: A lesson in evangelization, a lesson in love.

The Samaritan woman represents the existential dissatisfaction of one who does not find what he seeks. She’s had “five husbands” and now she lives with another man.” Pope Benedict XVI

John 4: 51-42. The Woman at the Well.

Once again Jesus uses something very ordinary – water – to teach us about God and God’s desired relationship with us.

First thing to note: Jesus has gone out, he’s in hostile territory: “What? You a Jew and you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?” We need to move out from the security of our Church buildings too!IMG_0947

Now the woman could be any woman here (or man). She’s busy with her life doing something that’s life-essential – drawing water from the well.

But watch what happens as she meets Jesus – in the end she’ll put down the water jar and go and tell her friends about the man she’s met. She becomes a missionary. If it happened here in Enniscorthy some might say she’s turned into some kind of religious nut!

First she doesn’t get it: “You have no bucket, sir, and the well is deep; how could you get this living water?” She’s thinking in terms of water (her earthly life) but he’s talking about himself as “living water” (human fulfillment, which she’s so close to – she can actually reach out and touch God physically yet she might never meet him and know only the joys of this world). Notice too that she calls him “sir” rather than Lord – her journey will be from “sir” to Lord.

IMG_0935She gets there gradually, in stages, slowly discovering the full identity of Jesus on a one to one basis. It’s personal, one to one, the heart of God meets the heart of a woman and revelation occurs gradually.

Lesson – We must meet him personally. We must converse with him, if we do, he’ll change our lives.

Suddenly, as soon as the woman asks for “that water” Jesus asks her to call her husband – watch where this is going – and she replies “I have no husband” to which Jesus responds; “although you’ve had five (husbands) the one you have now is not your husband.” Classic!

Remarkably, she doesn’t protest, clearly she’s got some awareness of a religious understanding of marriage which Jesus affirms as God’s understanding of marriage (as opposed to the cultural understanding). She also acknowledges the expectation of Messiah.

Of course, nowadays we’d probably tell Jesus off and shout discrimination!

But she humbles herself, submits to a higher power and order, accepts the reality of sin, and he brings her forward. She meets the tender embrace of Jesus’ heart – mercy – always available to us in Confession. What if she’d gone the other way?

There’s one final detail I’d like you to notice. She brings the town to see Jesus –  the town asks him to stay – and when they too have encountered him they say something that we all need to be able to say:

“Now we no longer believe because of what you told us; we have heard him ourselves and we know that he really is the saviour of the world.”