Third Sunday of Lent

John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons reported to Parliament his week that the Houses of Parliament are falling down. And I’m not referring here to Chinese consultation fees or MPs expenses. But to the bricks and mortar the very fabric and structural integrity of the building, and if remedial work is not undertaken immediately in ten to twenty years time the building will no longer be viable.

Shocking to think of such a major national institution under threat, the Mother of Parliaments falling down.

For the Jews in the Gospel today the temple in Jerusalem was such also such an institution. It was the very pride and identity of the nation: the most important and sacred place for the Jewish nation. Yet at the heart of the temple lies the seeds of its own destruction.

Jesus challenges the system of corruption, which he finds in the Temple at Jerusalem. Instead of a place worship they have turned the Temple into a marketplace. And in doing so have gravely offend God.

In the story of the Cleansing of the Temple Jesus takes to task those who have violated the sanctity of God’s House. Jesus is outraged by the behaviour in this holy place. Rarely do we see our Jesus so angry as he is in the temple. And he is angry because they show no respect for God.

In our Lord’s actions in the Temple perhaps we find a timely reminder to ourselves of the importance of showing our own love reverence and respect for God in the church. From time to time we all need to remind ourselves that the church is place of prayer dedicated to God.

So we should love and honour the Church as a holy and sacred place, a place where we pray. Not just hear mass, bur also pray our own private prayers and devotions; sometime we rush in and out of mass and hardly really pray. We don’t really acknowledge the true presence of Jesus in the Tabernacle, don’t honour Our Lady and the saints, or stop and light a candle for our intentions. These simple things express an important part of our faith they help to give expression to our love for God.

But there is also another aspect to the story of the cleansing of the Temple…for Jesus also speaks of himself and the sanctuary of his own body. In doing so our Lord also reminds us of an important truth about ourselves, that we too are the sanctuaries of God’s presence…temples of the Holy Spirit. But we also know that by our sins we have desecrated the temple of our lives.

During the Lenten season we are called to cleanse ourselves and to rededicate our lives to God. And how we do that is by obeying the commandments of God. By seeking God in our lives through prayer. By our generosity and love for other in works of charity.

Lent reminds us we need to put our lives to rights…just as Christ. Our Lord to put right the situation in the Temple…for we too are the Temple of God’s presence.

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