Year B, Third Sunday of Lent

What Sign Can You Show Us Authorizing You to Do These Things?

March 26, 2000


Ronald D. Curley

Text: The Holy Gospel According to Saint John 2:13-25

There are many vivid pictures of Jesus that are painted by the Evangelist, St. John.

The context of this most interesting event in the Temple of Jerusalem follows the most important account of the Wedding at Cana of Galilee, where Jesus (at the bidding of Mary, his Mother) turned the water in the purification vessels there at the wedding feast into the finest of wines.

It is not a coincidence at all that St. John, ever sensitive to the voice of Godalone, tells us of the event at hand for today's Gospel. This event deals directly with the Passover of the Jews, another event where there is wine and blood that prefigures directly the Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. That event, the Passover, would be the great event that would lead to the giving of the Law at Mt. Horeb (Sinai); and the birth of the nation of Israel on the first Pentecost, (the Hebrew Feast - "Shavuoth").

One must recall in chapter 1 of St. John's Gospel, the words that tell us that the Law was given by Moses, but, grace and truth came by Jesus Christ!

13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

It is Jesus who needed to lead the way of the people of God to the City of God (The City of Peace, "yerushalyim") where before the Crown, there Jesus must bear the Cross.

Jesus had set his face toward Jerusalem and would not be turned aside.

This was the task of Emmanuel, the Mission of God for mankind.

Like Abraham and Isaac before who went to Moriah, the Father and the Son would climb a mount in Jerusalem to their Moriah, but, there would be no ram caught in the thicket. This time, the time of all times, the Very Son of the Father would lay down his life for all men, that whosoever might trust in him might experience Salvation . . . (John 3:16-18; John 5:24)

There would be the Cross before the Crown.

So, the Passion began as it always does with the hardness of men's' hearts. Greed, thieves, those out for selfish interests all abound.

14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business.

But, Jesus would not have any part of this. Grace is giving. It is given to those without merit of their own at greatest cost to God alone. God so loved us, and so loves... But, as many as he loves he rebukes and scourges with a whip! (cf. Revelation 3 in his words to the Church at Laodicea).

15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.

16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; you shall not make my Father's house a house of trade."

God's House is not the House of Merchandize. Grace and the Gift do not go to the highest bidder, the one who can give the most money to the cause. God reaches down to the "anawim," "the little ones," the meek, the lowly, those who are the poor of the land. He touches with graces through the hand of Mother the poor of the land who have nothing, the humble, the contrite of heart.

This is the "zeal" that "consumes" God.

This "dives in misericordia" God that has the Heart that burns hotter than any furnace of the earth is the One who went to Jerusalem and took this whip and rebuked those whom he loved.

He shows us -- Jesus shows us the Heart of God in that whip of cords. It was a far softer whip that Jesus used than that than that one used upon him by the Romans.

17 His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for thy house will consume me."

18 The Jews then said to him, "What sign have you to show us for doing this?"

What sign?

"What sign have you to show us for doing this?"

The WORD of God answers us.

19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."

20 The Jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?"

21 But he spoke of the temple of his body.

22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word, which Jesus had spoken.

What a testimony from St. John, beloved of God.

This almost assumes that these beloved disciples did not really yet understand the words of Jesus about his Resurrection. How patiently God wait for us. If it took our understanding to be saved, few would ever be saved. Thank God we are saved by grace through faith! And, that faith that God allows us to have in grace is never alone, but, obedient to the calling of God.

May we be as obedient as Maria, the Daughter of Jerusalem, who wept and received her sword-pierced Heart on that day that was coming atop that mount?

May we become as obedient as Abraham and Isaac, going up that hill with Jesus and the Father, and, there with Jesus to be crucified? (Cf. Galatians 2:20)

How fruitful the Lord is, as we watch this zeal consume him?

"What sign have you to show us for doing this?"

The sign is Resurrection. We await and mourn during Lent, but, we all share in the blessed hope of the Resurrection Day that will come, thanks be to God alone.

23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs, which he did;

We all seek after signs so often. One moment, we are on top of the world, and, trust God for everything. The next moment, just as suddenly and seriously, we are just as easily cast down in the dumps and feel that God has forsaken us.

What will God do with us?

Often we become so unstable, like the waters that go this way and that way!

24 but Jesus did not trust himself to them,

25 because he knew all men and needed no one to bear witness of man; for he himself knew what was in man.

He knows our frame, and, God remembers that we are dust. We have a Treasure, my friends, in earthen vessels to show us, like he did at Cana of Galilee, as he does here at this Gospel event, that the transcendent Power, the AUTHORITY, is from God and of God... NOT of ourselves.

Let us follow Jesus, mistrustful of our selves, our own power, and lean on the Authority of Jesus Christ, the Author and Perfector of our Faith.

Deus et Sanctissima.