3rd Sunday of Lent
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
• So we hear from the gospel a very angry Jesus driving out all the animals in the temple area in Jerusalem
• He spilled the coins of the merchants and overturned the tables and told them: Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace
• Jesus was really fuming mad and angry seeing such a sight.
• Naturally, the higher authorities in the temple have to intervene and they asked: What sign can you show us for doing this?
• Jesus answered: Destroy this temple and I will raise it up in three days
• The answer of Jesus is not the one that the authorities are expecting
• What is really the reason why is it that Jesus was very angry in the temple?
• Because they have desecrated such a holy place? That is correct. Jesus wanted to cleanse the temple of all its bad elements
• There are a lot of nasty things in the temple; cheating in the money exchange, overpricing, stealing, pickpockets, not speaking of the smell of dung and other filth scattered all over the grounds of the temple
• With the animal business the whole temple must have smelled foul and dirty when Jesus arrived
• The emotions of Jesus, specifically the feeling of anger is not really the focus of the gospel today
• It is actually a lament of Jesus na naririyan na siya, siya ay anak ng Dios, he performs many miracles pero hindi siya pinaniniwalaan
• Ibig sabihin mawawalan na ng saysay ang halaga ng templo dahil mapapalitan na ito ng panibagong templo at yon na nga ay ang katawan ni Jesus
• Destroy this temple and I will raise it up on the third day. He was speaking about the temple of his own body that will replace the concrete structure of the temple
• And that would mean the resurrection of his body, the new temple to be translated to a new church kaya mawawalan na ng halaga ang lumang templo na ginawa ni Haring Solomon
• Unfortunately, the Jews refuse to accept Jesus. They refuse to believe in him
• If you remember when Jesus died on the cross the most sacred part of the temple; the holy of holies was destroyed
• And today only a piece of wall remained, where the Jews would worship and they call it as the wailing wall
B. Human Situation
• So what is now the significance and bearing of the gospel message in our ordinary lives as Christians?
• We are also called to renew ourselves. And this is the very essence of Lent. God is calling us to a life of renewal from a life of sin to a life of grace. The renewal of our temple the body and the soul
• In other words God is calling us to put to a stop to all the nasty things that we do. If Jesus has to make a cleansing of the temple we are also called to cleanse our own temples
• What is the reason why is it that it is very difficult to change? What do we hear about that? Father, I am just a human being and I am so weak and frail, I can’t ward off all the temptations that come my way
• Correct, but not entirely correct. The reason is because we cannot really do it alone, we need the grace of God. We need to cooperate with the grace of God
• How do we cooperate with the grace of God? How do we discern?
• For example, you have heard a first hand gossip that can really ruin the integrity of the person who happen to be your enemy
• Now you are so tempted to divulge it to the public because you now have the chance to avenge and break even with what the person did to you
• But your friend told you, advised you, and pleading you not to do it because your enemy will be totally ruined and cannot even fight for it because he or she will be helpless
• You did not listen to the advise of your friend, still, you continued with your evil plans
• There you are! You succeeded in destroying the reputation and the integrity of the person
• In that case, you did not cooperate with the grace of God because you did not listen to the advise of your friend not to do it because you are only fueled with anger, hatred and vengeance at your own disposal
• God in his grace, uses people around us to make his grace made manifest, to make us discern what is right or wrong
• To destroy the reputation of a person through gossips, blackmail, character assassination, or posting scandals and nasty blogs on the internet, is already tantamount to killing the person
• We do not give dignity to the temple of the human body, the very temple where God dwells, the physical body, the spiritual body, the soul as a place where God dwells. We desecrate it, instead of caring for it
• We do not cooperate with the grace of God if we do not care of what will happen to the innocent victims on the consequences of our own manipulations
• The 1st reading talks about the 10 commandments and exposing the dark secrets of the person, revealing a scandal is a sin against the 8th commandment because we are making a false witness against our neighbor. The CCC or the Catechism of the Catholic Church has defined it so well if you go over with that book
• Let me share this experience I have in my ministry when I was in Cebu. I was requested to anoint the sick
• And so I went. The woman lay bedridden and so thin and she is virtually skin and bones and after the confession I anointed her
• Then she told me: Father I want to ask for forgiveness to all whom I have wronged, but I cannot even stand or walk anymore. I also do not where they are now. I can’t do it anymore
• Then she cried and cried and cannot even cry anymore because she has become so weak
• She told me that she has pushed many young girls into prostitution in her younger years and she is responsible in destroying their lives forever
• I told her Ma’am if you have the purity of all intentions to ask forgiveness from them then, God has already forgiven you
• Then she cried and cried and she told me she is very happy that God has forgiven her. Two days later, her nephew told me that she died
• It was one of the most touching moments of my life in the priesthood
• And there I reflected on the words she told me that she has always repeated the same confession over and over again but still she feels guilty about it. Why?
• The reason is because the sins that we commit against the innocent and the helpless, and the unsuspecting, could really haunt us for life
• But no matter what God is still full of compassion he is always ready to forgive if we go back to him
• This is the challenge that the gospel brings us today that we care for the temple of our own body and that of others
• That we should not only care for our own reputation but also that of others because we are all equal in dignity and integrity before God
• And what we do for others we also do it to God. It does not make any difference that we care so much for our own selves but destroy others at the same time
• In this season of Lent, let us try to reflect and examine our lives. Is my life getting in disarray because I have not taken care of the reputation and dignity of others?
• Or is it blooming because we cooperate with God’s grace because we care for others as human beings worthy of respect
• A life of renewal is like planting a seedling. With constant care it grows
• It might be a slow and painful process but before you know it your life already blooms to a full flower
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