Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection March 03, 2024


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R/. Lord, you have the words of eternal life.

V/. Glory and praise to you, O Christ

R/. Glory and praise to you, O Christ

V/. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

R/. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man

1. Jesus admonishes us quite strongly: “Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (Jn 2. 16); “My house will be called a House of Prayer for all the nations? But you have turned it into a den of thieves” (Mk 11. 17); “My house shall be called a house of prayer. But you have turned it into a den of thieves” (Mt 21. 13); “My house shall be a house of prayer: but you have turned it into a den of robbers” (Lk 19. 46).

2. The first lesson for our reflection is the Contrast between the temple values and the market values. The spirit and values of a market or a den are: selfishness, self-interests, self-gain at the cost of other’s good, dishonesty, cheating, domination, manipulation, aggression, intimidation, commotion, noise, tension, restlessness, fear, pride, insecurity, uncertainty, etc. In contrast, the spirit and the values of the temple are: divine presence, holiness, peace, serenity, humility, sincerity, enlightenment, clarity, surrender to God’s will, fraternal communion, concern, sharing, charity, readiness to sacrifice for the good of others, etc.

3. An obvious and marked difference is Divine presence and holiness. The first obvious and marked difference between a temple and a marketplace or den is the very ambience that pervades – the holiness and focus in the temple, and the profanity, the worldliness and the chaotic situation in a market. One cannot turn the temple into a market place where there is so much chaos and dominance of business and self-serving values.

4. In this context, it is good to bear in mind three nuances of temple: church, heart and community or family.  Whatever be the sense or the nuance, one thing is sure and clear: there should be a deep sense of the holy, the spirit and attitude of the sacred and the divine.

5. Taking the first understanding of the temple as referring to a place of worship, the church, some simple questions to pose are: how much there is a sense of the holy, the spirit of the divine in our places of worship? Are we really aware of God’s presence? Do we really feel and experience closeness and communion with God? Do we really pray? Do we really concentrate and focus on God? Are we really filled by the spirit and values of the temple – is there that peace, that humility, that honesty, that charity, that sacrifice, that surrender? Do we really carry back with us that healing, that light, that strength? How often our worship, our attendance to the spiritual activities is so routine, so mechanical, so superficial, so shallow, without touching the heart, without making any little impact and effect? How sad it is that a good number remain so indifferent, lukewarm, inattentive, just waiting for the show and obligation to get over? While hours and hours can be spent on worthless parties, chatting, yapping, outings, how the same people become so calculative about every extra minute they spend with God?

6. Referring to the aspect of temple as human person, his heart. This can be better understood in the light of 2 Cor 6. 14-17: “For you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people”. Also, Jesus’ incessant insistence on interior purity can go in this direction: “It is what comes out from within that makes unclean” (Mk 7. 15). “What comes out of a person is what defiles, for evil designs come out of the heart: theft, murder, adultery, jealousy, greed, maliciousness, deceit, indecency, slander, pride and folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean” (Mk 7. 20-23).

7. How often our own hearts are crowded, congested and suffocated with the market or den values? What a selfishness,  arrogance, insincerity, crookedness, greed and needless anxiety?

8. Referring to the aspect of temple as Christian family or religious community: How often our own families or communities are like markets and dens! – No peace, no love, no adjustment, no humility, no forgiveness, no understanding, no sacrifice, no priority to God’s will and plans. Then how can there be happiness and beauty of living together? How can there be mental health, emotional balance and the strength to face the difficulties?

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