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Third Sunday of Lent - Gospel Reflection

What can we say about Jesus cleansing the Temple?

John tells us that, at the time of the cleansing of the Temple, the disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me”.  This is taken from the great Passion Psalm 69. Living according to God’s word leads to the psalmist’s isolation: it becomes an additional source of suffering imposed on him by the enemies who surround him. 

“Save me, O God! For the waters have come to my neck ..... It is for your sake that I have borne reproach ..... Zeal for your house has consumed me ...” (Ps. 69: 1, 7, 9).

In the just man exposed to suffering, the memory of the disciples recognised Jesus: zeal for God’s house leads him to the Passion, to the Cross.  The “zeal” that previously (and since) would serve God through violence he transforms into the zeal of the Cross – the zeal of self-giving love.  This zeal must become the Christian’s goal.

“The blind and the lame came to him in the Temple, and he healed them” (Mt. 21:14).  In contrast to the cattle-trading and money-changing, Jesus brings his healing goodness.  This is the true cleansing of the Temple.  Jesus does not come as a destroyer.  He does not come bearing the sword of a revolutionary.  He comes with the gift of healing.  He turns towards those who, because of their afflictions, have been driven to the margins of life and society.  He reveals God as the one who loves and his power as the power of love.

(cf. Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, vol. 2, pp 11-23)

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