3rd Lenten Sunday (Note & Bulletin)

In one of my favourite prayers by Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the “Anima Christi,” there is a line that reads, “Do not allow me to be separated from you.” I love this line because it expresses both the hope and fear we have in our lives of faith. We hope that the Lord will always be with us. We fear that he may let us go, that he will abandon us if we feel ourselves caught in sinfulness. Perhaps for many of us, it is the fear that is more prevalent in our hearts. We all know the words we say and the actions we do that we wish we hadn't. And because of this, we either want to keep God relatively far from us, so that the Lord can‟t see us too fully, or we think we must win and achieve his love and salvation. In this Sunday's gospel, Christ is responding with great emotion to our misplaced fear and efforts to achieve a spot beside him.

At the end of the gospel passage, Saint John the Evangelist writes a confusing paragraph. He says, Jesus did not “entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about human nature, for he himself knew what was within the human person.” We often forget this last sentence and focus on the Lord driving the animal sellers and money changers out of the Temple. In order to understand his action, however, it is necessary to understand that God knows the mixed messages we feel in our hearts. Christ knows our hope to be with him and our fear to be without him. He understands we all long and desire to live and to breathe within the freedom of his love. We want so badly that our biggest fear is to be without it. And so we try and build it, win it and achieve it. The people Jesus drove from the Temple were those who were engaged in the whole practice of offering sacrifice to God – the money changers changed Roman coin into Jewish money so that people could buy an animal to sacrifice. The emotional reaction of the Lord is from a sadness within God that we still often don't know what God is all about. If we think we need to “jump through hoops” in order not to be separated from the Lord, this is clear expression that God's heart remains foreign to us. In driving some out of the Temple, Jesus is begging us to see with new eyes and to believe with new hearts. We don't have to “jump through hoops,” we need only open our eyes to see his salvation and promise, and open our hearts to receive the free gift of his love. Lent is the perfect time to believe in him with a newness of heart.

Our hearts can never be the same when we look at the Cross of Christ. Our fear of being left by him is revealed as a lie from the Devil. And God's most intense love for each of us is instead revealed as the truth and gift our hearts have so long for. The Cross is foolishness and tragic on the surface but for us it is life because it is love. It isn‟t necessary for us to fear that God will leave us “by the roadside.” The Cross, with a gentleness like a soft and refreshing breeze, says to us that this can never be the case, that we always have been, always are and always will be loved by our God. Let us not allow our hearts to become like a marketplace, trying to win and achieve the love of the Lord. Let us rather say to him, “Yes, Lord. I see you and hear. And I believe you.”

Take Care and God Bless!

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