The Third Sunday of Lent –
Are we growing in zeal for Our God?
In the passage from St. John’s Gospel, Jesus visits the Temple, and his visits were rarely pleasant or approving. Rather, his Temple visits fill him with anger, outrage, and judgment. All four gospels report Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple, and the driving out of the moneychangers. The Temple was the one place in all of Israel where God’s presence was most intensely felt, and where worship was called to deepest devotion. Yet, Jesus sensed a terrible disconnect between worship in the Temple and the worship in daily life.
The Season of Lent focuses our attention on the catechumens preparing for the initiation sacraments at Easter. Beginning this week and for the following two Sundays, they will participate in scrutiny rituals.
We, the baptized and fellow parishioners are also called to accompany them on this journey of purification.Can we say that God’s basic command to provide for the common good is lived in our world, our country, our state, or even our own community? Can we say there is a “zeal that consumes” our society to provide for the basic needs of all people? Or is there basically “zeal to consume” for our own sake?
Lent is that particular time for purification of heart and soul. We need to ask ourselves the most basic questions. “What zeal consumes us?” “Are we aware of the sufferings of so many in our world today?” “Do these sufferings motivate us to a change of heart, transformation of lifestyle, a reordering of our priorities?” “How do we better connect worship within our parish community to the worship of our daily lives?”
Once we have begun the purification of our own heart and soul, our Catholic faith calls on us to ask these same questions of our society, community, state and nation. “What zeal consumes us as an American people?” “How do the rising numbers of poor people in our nation and in the world today affect our priorities as a people?” “What prophetic voices are calling us to be a holier people through our financial priorities?” “How are we as a Catholic people in the United States responsible for transforming our national heart and soul?”
Let us pray that our zeal for others and our actions on their behalf during Lent and beyond might help others to recognize that this is the place where God needs to be worshipped continually.