Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Lent Year B
Theme: IF GOD ENTERS OUR TEMPLES TODAY, WHAT WILL HE SAY?
By: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
Homily for Sunday March 7 2021
(EX.20:1-17, 1COR 1:22-25, JN. 2:13-125)
In today’s Gospel, John narrates Jesus’ encounter with those profaning God’s Sanctuary. His action simply demonstrates that He is actually God’s wisdom and the fullness of the Law. His zeal distinguished Him, from the authorities. Instead of representing God’s interest, they represented their selfish economic and social interests.
This is one of the most shocking gospel periscopes, never have we heard Jesus taking a whip and driving people out and anger in his voice and almost desperation. It is so unlike him, the one who is patient and kind and forgiving and all these things that we expect of him, and, all of a sudden, it seems that he lost His temper. But Paul said that the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom. However, in order to understand the relevance of Jesus’ action, we must learn more about the activities that were going on in the temple area. Thus, the two major groups controlled by the temple leaders.
A) The Merchants:
The Jews consider the Temple of Jerusalem as the center of their religious life. Every year, during Passover, they go to the Temple. It is the feast that recalls the liberation of the people from Egypt through the saving act of Yahweh. So, during this time, the Temple is packed with people who have come to fulfill their obligations to God. One of these is to offer animal sacrifices. There were inspectors (the priests and leaders in the Temple) who would see to it that the animals (oxen, sheep and doves) must be unblemished and of the best quality. But, for some ulterior motives, these inspectors would readily disapprove the animals that the pilgrims brought with them. So, the people were obliged to buy the animals sold in the Temple, and at very exorbitant price. This system had the approval of the high priest. Most of the people usually end up going home without being able to offer sacrifices simply because they did not have enough money.
B) The Money Changers:
The moneychangers had also their share in the injustice done to the people. They exchanged Roman coins, which was the legal tender and bore the image of the Roman emperor, for the temple coins that were needed to pay the temple tax. The secular money from outside is considered unworthy and dirty and they cannot be brought into the Temple. They had to be exchanged with the Temple money, and of course, for a lower value.
Obviously, these injustices and oppressions were done, especially to the poor who were basically denied of their right to worship. And this made Jesus very angry. The rituals in the Temple became the occasions for abuse and oppression against the poor. The Temple became the place where greed, corruption, deceit and cheating took place.
The commandments of God as given to us today are meant to form us into a sacred community. A community that lives in justice and peace with one another. And Jesus wants us, first, never to keep quiet or remain indifferent while things go wrong. Especially in the house of God, our homes, offices or any place at all. Also, we must not allow our personal desires destroy the sanity of the Church, family, state, or country.
My brothers and sisters, God demands genuine worship. During Lent we reflect upon the meaning of this sign for us and for our world. We need to take this opportunity to consider the quality of our prayer and worship. In our prayers we seek to deepen our relationship with the person of Christ. In our worship with the community, we gather to experience anew the passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus and its significance in our lives. Christ promises to be present with us when we gather for prayer.
Have a blessed week.
Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara