Third Sunday of Lent, Year B

Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19:8-11; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25; John 2:13-25

First Reading: The Ten Commandments, or “words,” variously listed both in Exodus and Deuteronomy, are a summary of the covenant love relationship between God and the people.

Psalm 19: Today’s psalm provides a glorious affirmation of the gift of the law of the Lord. It is a love song that cherishes the law of the Lord.

Second Reading: In the Second Reading, we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to many, but to those who are called, the wisdom of God.

Gospel: The account of Jesus cleansing the Temple, which occurs early in Jesus’s ministry in the Gospel according to John, portrays the zeal and dedication Jesus exercised in his ministry.

Reflection: Sometimes we admire single-minded zeal and sometimes we don’t. When the zeal helps others (for example, social workers who put in long hours out of compassion for the poor or for parentless children), we admire it. When the zeal hurts others (for example, when desire for promotion causes an employee to walk all over others), we disdain it. Jesus’ zeal for his Father’s house in today’s gospel is certainly to be admired. As disciples, our driving force (zeal) must be as compelling as that of Jesus.

The zeal that drove Jesus to purify the Temple in such a dramatic way ultimately consumed him: the temple of his body was destroyed—only to be raised from the dead. His zeal was rooted in the conviction that life can come from death. Later, his disciples “remembered that he had said this” and came to believe in the resurrection. The zeal of Jesus must consume us who are his disciples today and bring us to the same belief as the disciples in the gospel—that our “deaths” can lead to new life.

The simple call of the gospel is to see the signs of God’s presence in our midst. Unlike the signs the Jews asked to see in the gospel—signs that would justify Jesus’ extraordinary action in the Temple—we are to ask and look for different signs, ones that draw us into the deepest reality of what it means to be a disciples of Jesus. Jesus showed us the signs so clearly: he was crucified (see second reading) and then raised up. Like Jesus, the zeal that ought to consume us, too, is a single-minded willingness to die to ourselves so that we, too, can live. Just as surely as God raised up Jesus from the dead, so will we be raised up. The signs are there for us to see and believe. Oh, the jealousy and fidelity of the Divine (see first reading)! Yes, God can be trusted with our very lives.

Question for Reflection: What zeal do I bring to my discipleship?

© 2015, Scott W. Eakins. All rights reserved.

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