March 8, 2015
Third Sunday of Lent
||Exodus 20:1-17 or
Exodus 20:1-3, 7-8, 12-17
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
We were new to town and registering at our local parish. The Christian formation director welcomed us. “You’ll find this is a Jesus-centered parish,” he said.
My husband gave him a quizzical look. Later, he said, “Doesn’t that go without saying? Isn’t every Christian church Jesus-centered?”
That was many years ago. Since then, we’ve been in a few parishes that somehow occasionally seemed to lose that center.
For instance, I remember once standing in a church foyer just before Mass. People entering the building had to pass through a gauntlet of greeters in the 30-foot distance between the front door and the doors to the pews.
Youth were having a car wash, the Knights of Columbus were selling tickets to a pancake breakfast, and the women’s club offered baked goods for sale.
A family walking through the area seemed annoyed by the commotion. I heard a teenager remark, “Gosh, it’s like that story when Jesus got mad at all the merchants in the temple.”
That story is today’s Gospel. Jesus, annoyed by the commotion, told the temple money changers, “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
A marketplace scene indeed has become familiar in churches today. Maybe we’ve developed a bad habit in how we support our Church and its ministry, forgetting that if we value and revere God, we don’t need any fundraising exchanges for investing in the life of Christ’s community.
In this week’s Old Testament reading, God’s commandments call us to have no other gods, to respect our one and only God, and keep him at the center of our lives.
When Jesus drives the money changers out of the temple, he’s accusing them of distracting people from God as their center.
Then he adds, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” Scripture explains that he was referring to his own body and his resurrection. But it’s a warning that our worldly distractions can destroy the place where God comes to dwell -- whether it is our faith community or our own hearts.
He will rise, though. He explained that. God will forever triumph.
However, don’t we want to maintain a dwelling place for God at the center in our own lives?
This column is offered in cooperation with The North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.