Third Sunday of Lent
March 4, 2018 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Today’s readings talk about jealousy, that is to say, divine jealousy. In the first reading, God says to his people: “I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God” (Ex 20–5). In the Book of Deuteronomy, it is written: “For the Lord, your God, is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deut 4:24). When the disciples watched Jesus cleansing the Temple, they recalled the words of the Scripture: “Zeal for your house will consume me” (Jn 2:17). God is jealous in that he will not tolerate any worship of other gods. His jealousy is compared to that of a husband toward his bride.

The Temple Jesus enters represents the Church and us. Jesus wants to expel everything that interferes with the true worship of God from us and the Church. He said to the people who were in the Temple: “According to Scripture, my house will be called a house of prayer; but you are turning it into a bandits’ den” (Mt 21:13).

Jesus wants to purify us from idolatry. Of course, we are not pagans. We are not worshipping stones and trees or going to cults. However, there is an existential idolatry in us. Idolatry is confusion. It is the confounding of creatures with the Creator. It is to put our hope in what is vain. It is to divinize what is not divine.

Our hearts easily bind to what is material, not seeing what is immaterial. We do not look at what is around us as a sign of something greater. It is noteworthy that in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, after expelling the money changers from the Temple, Jesus cures the blind. Idolatry is a kind of blindness of the spirit, a moral blindness. We can only see what is on the surface and we think that it is everything. We live in a positivist culture that affirms only what we can see and touch as real. Although we do not believe in this, we nevertheless live as if it were true. It is very hard to see beyond what is in front of us. We fail to perceive God as a presence in everything. How many times do we really think about Jesus during the day? Perhaps we think about him when we are praying but otherwise it is as if he did not exist.

Jesus frees us from every kind of idolatry. He cleanses our hearts and uses his whip to destroy everything that is in the place reserved only for God. What is Jesus’ whip? We find the answer in the second reading, when Saint Paul says: “We proclaim Christ crucified” (1 Cor 1:22), Jesus’ whip is his cross. With the cross, he cleanses us from everything that is against God. Through Christ’s cross, we enter into the true adoration of God.

If we accept the sufferings of life, all the tribulations we endure, as participation in Jesus’ cross, we can experience the mysterious power of liberation. We can find the path of wisdom and peace in our lives: “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

“Zeal for your house will consume me.” Jesus is jealous of our hearts. He wants to be everything for us. He wants us to recognize that everything belongs to him: the face that we love, the things that we have, the projects that we dream, everything that we touch. First of all, he wants us to belong totally to him. He is not an alternative; he is the origin and fount from whom everything proceeds.

Looking at Mary, we find a heart that belongs totally to God. In her, we can find the true worshipper, a model to follow. May her intercession obtain for us a heart like hers.  Amen.

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