Sunday, March 4, 2018
The Third Sunday of Lent, Year B
(When readings for Year A are used, click here or scroll down)
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 money-changers 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.” John 2:15-16
Jesus made quite a scene. He directly engaged those who were turning the Temple into a marketplace. Those selling animals for sacrifice were doing so as a way of trying to make a profit off of the sacred practices of the Jewish faith. They were not there to serve the will of God; rather, they were there to serve themselves. And this brought forth the holy wrath of our Lord.
It’s important to point out that Jesus’ wrath was not the result of Him losing His temper. It was not the result of His out of control emotions pouring forth in extreme anger. No, Jesus was fully in control of Himself and exercised His wrath as a result of a powerful passion of love. In this case, His perfect love was manifested through the passion of anger.
Anger is normally understood as a sin and it is sinful when it’s the result of one losing control. But it’s important to note that the passion of anger, in and of itself, is not sinful. A passion is a powerful drive which manifests itself in various ways. The key question to ask is, “What is driving that passion?”
In Jesus’ case, it was hatred for sin and love for the sinner that drove Him to this holy wrath. By turning over the tables and driving people out of the Temple with a whip, Jesus made it clear that He loved His Father, whose house they were in, and He loved the people enough to passionately rebuke the sin that they were committing. The ultimate goal of His action was their conversion.
Jesus hates the sin in your life with the same perfect passion. At times we need a holy rebuke to set us on the correct path. Do not be afraid to let the Lord offer this form of rebuke to you this Lent.
Reflect, today, upon those parts of your life that Jesus wants to cleanse. Allow Him to speak directly and firmly to you so that you will be driven to repentance. The Lord loves you with a perfect love and desires that all sin in your life be cleansed.
Lord, I know that I am a sinner who is in need of Your mercy and, at times, in need of Your holy wrath. Help me to humbly receive Your rebukes of love and to allow You to drive all sin from my life. Have mercy on me, dear Lord. Please have mercy. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saint of the Day – Saint Casimir – Optional Memorial
Quenching Your Thirst with Living Water
The Third Sunday of Lent, Year A
(Note: This Gospel is optional for Years B & C with Scrutinies)
“Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Christ?” John 4:29
This is the story of a woman who encountered Jesus at the well. She comes to the well in the middle of the noonday heat so as to avoid the other women of her town for fear of encountering their judgment upon her, for she was a sinful woman. At the well she encounters Jesus. Jesus speaks with her for a while and she is deeply touched by this casual but transforming conversation.
The first thing to note is that the very fact of Jesus speaking to her touched her. She was a Samaritan woman and Jesus was a Jewish man. Jewish men did not speak to Samaritan women. But there was something more that Jesus said that deeply affected her. As the woman herself tells us, He “told me everything I have done.”
She wasn’t only impressed that Jesus knew all about her past as if He were a mind reader or magician. There is more to this encounter than the simple fact that Jesus told her all about her past sins. What truly seemed to touch her was that within the context of Jesus knowing all about her, all the sins of her past life and her broken relationships, He still treated her with the greatest respect and dignity. This was a new experience for her!
We can be certain that she would have daily experienced a sort of community shame. The way she lived in the past and the way she was living at the present was not an acceptable lifestyle. And she felt the shame of it which, as mentioned above, was the reason she came to the well in the middle of the day. She was avoiding others.
But here was Jesus. He knew all about her but wanted to give her Living Water nonetheless. He wanted to satiate the thirst that she was feeling in her soul. As He spoke to her, and as she experienced His gentleness and acceptance, that thirst began to be quenched. It began to be quenched because what she really needed, what we all need, is this perfect love and acceptance that Jesus offers. He offered it to her, and He offers it to us.
Interestingly, the woman went away and “left her water jar” by the well. She never actually got the water she came for. Or did she? Symbolically, this act of leaving the water jar at the well is a sign that her thirst was quenched by this encounter with Jesus. She was no longer thirsty, at least spiritually speaking. Jesus, the Living Water, satiated.
Reflect, today, upon the undeniable thirst that is within you. Once you are aware of it, make the conscious choice to let Jesus satiate it with Living Water. If you do this, you too will leave the many “jars” behind that never satisfy for very long.
Lord, You are the Living Water that my soul needs. May I meet You in the heat of my day, in the trials of life, and in my shame and guilt. May I encounter Your love, gentleness and acceptance in these moments, and may that Love become the source of my new life in You. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saint of the Day – Saint Casimir – Optional Memorial