Message for Lent 3 – Sunday, March 3, 2024

Brothers & Sisters,

Usually, Jesus, the Man and God and Prince of Peace, is presented as tender, gentle, humble, and preaching love of neighbour to forgiveness to the point of urging that “if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also”  (Mt 5:39).  Jesus, the Son of God, is merciful and slow to anger like his Father.  But where does this “anger” of Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem come from?

Let’s look at the Temple of Jerusalem, a place of worship.  The merchants and money changers mistakenly believed they could do whatever they wanted within the Temple walls, sell, buy, and trade goods without a care.  The Earth—our common home, to borrow Pope Francis’ term—increasingly seems to be suffering the same fate.  How many of us recognize that the Earth does not belong to us, that we are merely stewards?  Land is sometimes sold or resold at exorbitant prices because someone got there first or bought it.  Sometimes it is taken by force or grabbed for other purposes. All too often, the Earth is harmed just to allow multinational corporations to exploit natural resources, with no respect for communities that have inhabited affected lands for generations

The Temple of Jerusalem was sacred to Jesus.  This is exactly the regard that many indigenous and peasant communities have for the Earth.  They are aware that they have inherited it from their ancestors and will have to leave it to their children, and to future generations.  For them, the land, the water, the forests – in short, God’s creation – is sacred.

To conclude, let us ask ourselves how Jesus would have acted had he arrived at the temple and found people sweeping, cleaning the benches and walls, adorning and beautifying the sacred space, or even praying or proclaiming the word of God.  Let’s also ask ourselves how do we care for the Earth, our common home.