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ANGER THAT LEADS TO ZEAL

3RD SUNDAY OF LENT

Today’s gospel gives us a rare peek into an also rare but very human emotion of Our Lord Jesus Christ – anger. Surrounded by difficult, problematic people, Jesus never showed anger. He was not angry at the adulterous woman nor with the Pharisees who continuously hounded him. Even Judas’ betrayal did not elicit anger from Jesus. On the cross, there was only forgiveness and meekness.

But here, look at Jesus angry, and showing it to all. However, his anger does not turn to violence against his neighbors. He forms a cord into a whip but not to attack people but drive away the animals sold at the temple quarters. He overturns tables, but doesn’t lay a hand on any person there.

And of all places, Jesus was angry at the Temple area. Why? His emotions were stirred because people should go to the Temple to pray, to worship, to focus on God. Here were people, though, who used the Temple for their own agenda, while their hearts are closed to the presence of the Almighty Father. The gospel says: zeal for God’s house burned within Jesus.

If Jesus were to drop by our parish church this very minute, what emotions would he feel? Will we be surprised if Jesus again shows anger? More and more people are habitually in church, but their minds are not here at all. Is it possible to be here and yet our hearts are focuses somewhere else?

Why is it that people spend their time in church catching up on each other’s lives, talking all the while that the celebration is unfolding? Then, there are those who are more sensitive to the vibration of the cell phone, always checking it for text or missed call, than to the Spirit of God communicating to their souls. It is always very good to go to Mass with friends, but to center on your friends and not on God, is something Jesus will find unacceptable behavior.

This Lent, God wants us to deepen our relationship with him. And we must start with worship itself. There is time we give to worship and it is great! But is there zeal in our worship? If a person comes to church because he loves God and wants to spend his time thanking and praising Him or lifting up to Him his concerns, then he will focus on the Lord. No matter how boring the priest is, or the weather too hot, or the choir absent, if there is zeal in our hearts for God, our worship is complete and pleasing to the Lord.

Why is worship important? It is because worship flows into life. If you cannot focus on God in your church, how can you focus on God in your family, in your work, in your neighborhood, in moments of trials? If you are sensitive to the Lord in worship, you will be sensitive to His word and His presence even after the Mass is over.

Jesus, teach us to honor you not only by being physically present here at Mass, but by truly offering to you our whole hearts as we celebrate today. Thank you Jesus for reminding us to love you above all.