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3rd Sunday in Lent, Year B – Homily

3rd Sunday in Let, Year B
Exodus 20:1-17
1 Corinthians 1:22-25
John 2:13-25
March 8, 2015

We generally don’t think of Jesus as getting angry but today we hear that “He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple.”  What made Jesus so upset?

They have turned His Father’s House, meaning the Temple, into a marketplace.

It might have started with good intentions.  At least, that is probably what the merchants were saying.  They would have said they were there to provide a service to the Temple Visitors.

After all, when people came to the Temple, they had to have the right type of currency to pay their Temple Tax.  The currency the people used in everyday life would have been different so the money changers were “needed.”

Likewise, those who will there selling sheep and doves probably would have said they were to sell the animals to those who had come to offer sacrifice and needed the livestock.

It might have started with good intentions.  What I have said can make some sense in human terms.  Some might see as good wisdom.  So, again, why did Jesus get upset?

The money-changing and livestock sales had gone beyond providing a service and became a business in itself.  Also, it did not need to happen in the Temple.  Surely, there must have been someplace nearby that the merchants could have set up shop.

Setting up in the Temple itself, the activities detracted from the real purpose of the Temple as a place to worship God.  The First Commandments are about our relationship with God.  Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to love God.  The first three of the ten focus on loving God.

The First Commandment tells us to worship God alone.  For the Jews, worship included offering sacrifices but it had become more about the action than real worship of the Lord.  I bet people were spending more time in the “marketplace” then they did offering real worship.  In doing so, the marketplace became their god.

The Second Commandment says not to take the Lord’s name in vain.  On a simple level we take this to mean not to use curse words, especially not to use the Lord’s name as a curse word.  It includes that but it is to be more.  People would take oaths in the Lord’s name and then not fulfill their oath, discrediting their promise made in faith.

The Third Commandment is to keep the Sabbath holy.  The rules about the Sabbath were very stringent against doing any work.  Remember the stories about when people criticized Jesus for healing on the Sabbath because they considered it forbidden work?

This part of keeping the Sabbath holy goes back to the first story of creation in the first chapter of Genesis.  God created the world in six days and resting on the Sabbath.

God did not rest simply to get away from the office.  God did not rest from work because He was tired.  God didn’t take off a day from work to do something else.  God rested to reflect on and appreciate what He had created.

Do we need a day of physical rest?  Sure but how many of us get?  Sure, you have the day off from work but how many of us just fill up our day with something else?

How well do we really make Sunday a Sabbath day?

Coming here for Mass is a vital part of it.  The Church still teaches that we are to come to Sunday Mass every week that we are healthy and the weather cooperates.  But does what we do the rest of the day follow what we do here?

It isn’t easy.  Some people have to work on Sunday.  It used to be on Sunday most of the stores were closed and there won’t be sports practices or games.  Now, lots of businesses are open on Sunday (and that means people have to work) and games and practices happen.

Why the change?

I think some of it is flows from fewer people comes to church and having any relationship with God.  If you don’t believe in God, then a Sabbath has no meaning.

For people who do come to church, we can feel between a rock and a hard place.  How can we keep a Sabbath, hold down a job, and participate in sports or other activities?

There is no easy answer to this.  We are in Lent right now as a time of preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  During this time, I just encourage you to think about what the Sabbath means to you and your relationship with God.

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