On this Third Sunday of Lent, Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM offers a Scriptural Reflection on the coming Sunday’s Gospel. This content is edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here Franciscan Gospel Reflection March 7 2021 Excerpts are from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Photo:http://www.oceansbridge.com/oil-paintings/product/60723/castingoutthemoneychangers
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.”
At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.
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.
Matthew, Mark and Luke all place this incident in the life of Jesus at the end of this life. It is the event that leads the religious leaders to the decision to have Jesus arrested and executed. In vivid contrast, John’s gospel places this account at the very beginning, in the second chapter. Also, in John’s gospel, Jesus goes to Jerusalem three different times (John 2:13, 5:1, and 12:12). Scripture scholars believe that John wants to make clear from the very beginning who Jesus is. Because John is writing decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Christian community is well aware of the events of Jesus’ life and death. There is no need to gently introduce the radical nature of Jesus’ life and death.
John’s description of Jesus in the temple is also more violent than that of the synoptic gospels. Only in John does Jesus make a whip. John also includes a prediction of the temple’s eventual destruction, he and includes a quote from Psalm 69 about being consumed with zeal for his Father’s house. Zachariah may offer help to understand why John presents such a forceful image of Jesus in the temple. Zachariah describes a time when the fullness God will be present. “And every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holy to the Lord of hosts; and all who come to sacrifice shall take them and cook in them. On that day there shall no longer be any merchant in the house of the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 14:21) This passage states that when the day of fulfillment comes, everything will be considered holy to God, and there will no longer be any need for merchants in the temple to sell unblemished animals for sacrifice. By his actions, Jesus is saying that the time of fulfillment has come, and the merchants’ presence is no longer needed.
- Have you ever been present when another was so angry that it got expressed in physical action? What was that like for you?
- Can you list the number of times in just the last week you have read, heard of, or experienced expressions of anger towards another?
- The gospels do not record many occasions when Jesus became angry. Can you think of other times? Can you think of other times he used physical force?
- If you had come to the temple that day to offer a small sacrifice to God when the events of this gospel took place, how do you think you would have reacted?
- What do you think would happen if you tried to bring a dish to your parish pot luck, and as you came in you were approached by another and told your offering was not adequate and you should just set it aside? How would you respond?
- Can you take some time to reflect on who might feel that they are being told their offering, or their life, is not adequate?
- Can you talk to God now about how you feel about expressing anger, times when you have felt so angry that it was expressed physically, or why you dislike thinking of Jesus or God as being angry?