March 8, 2015
3rd Sunday of Lent
13 Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the moneychangers seated there. 15 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, 16 and to those who sold doves he said, "Take these out of here, and stop making my Father's house a marketplace."
17 His disciples recalled the words of scripture, "Zeal for your house will consume me."
18 At this the Jews answered and said to him, "What sign can you show us for doing this?" 19 Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." 20 The Jews said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?" 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 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.
23 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. 24 But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, 25 and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.
Most of us associate this event in the life of Jesus with the end of his life. Matthew, Mark and Luke all place this event at the end of their gospels. In their narratives, what immediately follows is the religious leaders of the day carrying out their decision to have Jesus arrested and executed. However, 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 lay out the fullness of who Jesus is right from the beginning. Because he 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 ease gently into the radical nature of Jesus’ life or teaching.
John’s description of Jesus in the temple is 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 here, and he includes a quote from Psalm 69 about being consumed with zeal for his Father’s house. Why is Jesus so zealous here? Perhaps a key is found in the prophet Zechariah, who describes a time when the fullness God will be present. One of the things he says is, “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.
1. What were you taught about your feelings of anger as a child growing up?
2. Have you been surprised by the amount of anger or hurt with which you responded to a particular situation?
3. Jesus does not become angry often. Can you think of other times Jesus became angry? Can you think of other times he used physical force?
4. What does Jesus’ action of turning over the money changers’ tables and driving out those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves say to you? How do you respond?
5. What do you think would happen if every time you tried to make an offering or bring a dish at a pot luck, you were told that what you had to offer/bring was not quite good enough? How would you respond to that situation?
6. Do you ever reflect on who might feel that they are being told they are not good enough by our church’s physical structures, schedules, requirements, and qualifications?
7. Do you know people who have said that they find it easier to pray to God in places other than churches? How do you respond?
8. Why do you think that the church gives us this gospel to reflect on during this third Sunday of Lent?
On Wednesday of each week, the Gospel and reflection questions for the upcoming Sunday are posted at the following link: http://il-ritiro.org/gospel-reflections.aspx
. You are invited to share your own reflection and comments with others at this website.
Reflection questions are written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. They are edited by Sister Anne Marie Lom, OSF and Joe Thiel. They are translated into Spanish by Fernando Alessandrini.
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