3rd Sunday of Lent
We all have things in our lives that don’t belong there. Maybe it’s the poor way we allow someone to treat us, maybe it’s a habitual sin, maybe it’s a pattern of thought or attitude that traps us in a cycle of regret, anger, or an inability to forgive. Jesus has bold words for us today: “Take these out of here.”
When we hear the story of the Cleansing of the Temple, it can be easy to look down on the animal-sellers and money-changers. However, they set up shop in the Temple for a very practical purpose. People needed to buy animals to sacrifice, they were going to sacrifice them in the Temple: ergo, quite a convenient, successful marketplace! For many of us, the negative influences in our lives don’t come out of nowhere. We might have considered them quite practical and reasonable initially. We wanted to keep the peace, so we allowed someone to talk to us disrespectfully. A person hurt us deeply and we weren’t prepared to let go of our resentment right away. Over time, these can fester and corrupt our inner life in a way we didn’t expect.
The response of Jesus is a strong one. “He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area.” God wants us to be whole, healthy human beings. He knows how destructive it is for our souls to be caught up in – our own sin and those of others. God’s love for us is startlingly fierce. In a few short weeks we will celebrate the culmination of that courageous love as Jesus goes to his death on the cross.
In the meantime, Lent is an opportunity for cleansing and renewal. If we’ve allowed into our lives things that don’t belong, let today be the day we ask Jesus to clear them out. It’s not always easy or pretty, but it’s necessary for our hearts to function the way they were made. God will turn our tables over if we ask Him to.
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