Reflections: 4th March 2018

A Reflection for the Third Sunday of Lent

JN 2: 13-25 ( )

The Gospel in this Sunday’s Mass is uncompromising; Jesus takes cords, makes a whip of them and drives the merchants and money-changers out of the Temple. Imagine someone doing that today, the shock, the scandal, the headlines, the Social Media response … the talking heads on all the media outlets having common cause - the blaming of over-zealous, over the top reaction to a little bit of common sense business being done in the Church! Well, so runs my imagination.

The Exodus reading gives us Moses receiving the 10 Commandments. They were written on tablets of stone, carefully placed in a wooden case, thereafter called the Ark of the Covenant. That Ark led the Jewish people out of exile and into the Promised Land. The reverence it had in the Jewish mentality is something that has lasted through the millennia until present times. Remember Indiana Jones and the film “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, back in the late 1980s? The hero got to fight with the dreadful Nazis for the ‘treasure’ of the lost Ark, and then when it was finally found … the pyrotechnics were quite something.

Reverence - meaning wonder, awe, humility, surrender in the face of something much greater than oneself - is something very much missing from today’s culture. The Ark symbolised it for the Jews. The Temple was where the Ark was kept. Jesus was scandalised by what he was witnessing.

There is something much greater than the presence of the Ark in each one of our churches. The Tabernacle, the depository of the Presence of the Sacred Eucharist, Christ, whole and entire, it’s there, front and centre in them all. How do we treat our local church? And Christ’s presence therein? As a backdrop to gossip, arranging meetings, “what’s the news?” scenarios? Do we know how to genuflect anymore? Bless ourselves, or, as I think about it myself, lift the cap?

Reverence is worth thinking about - reverence for life is perhaps the greatest of all gifts that we can share with each other. And that too is something very much in peril today. It’s good to remember how Christ thought about it.

Noel O’Meara C.S.Sp. – Fr. Noel has been a missionary in Ireland and Brazil. He now works with an NGO for Africa which is based in Germany.