3rd Sunday of Lent B21

A Question of Authority

It is tough at times to work out who has authority on certain issues. There are ‘experts’ everywhere, telling us how we should eat, exercise, manage our finances … the list goes on. Something that has struck me during the current pandemic is how hard it can be to know who to believe. We hear from doctors and virologists, politicians and economists, and their opinions don’t always align. It can take us a while to trust the voices we hear in the media.

The Temple scene in today’s Gospel sparks a debate about Jesus’ authority. While he certainly cuts an authoritative figure as he drives out the stall-holders and money-changers, he is immediately questioned. The Jews demand a sign to explain his provocative words and actions, as if to say ‘Who do you think you are?’ It is interesting to note that in John’s Gospel, this scene takes place at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, explaining the disbelief of the witnesses.

In calling the Temple ‘my Father’s house’ Jesus identifies the source of his authority. But his interrogators do not understand, nor do his disciples, though we are told it later make sense to them after the Resurrection. This scene offers more than an angry Jesus and a clueless audience. It is a public revelation of Jesus’ identity and authority, as the one in whom God’s presence dwells. It also emphasises the radical new way of living that Jesus has come to bring about. As we journey through Lent, we ask ourselves where the message of Jesus has become obstructed in our lives, and how we might open our hearts again to his presence and guidance. 

The opening sentence from today’s reading from Exodus has God saying to the people that he is the God who brought them out of slavery. I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD are God’s  words to us, as we journey through our own personal wilderness.

The SCIAF and Mary’s Meals Lenten campaign alerts us to many forms of slavery in the world today. Slavery in its many forms can be part of any culture at any time. Lent is a time to rid our hearts of our personal enslavements and to face the challenges and reality of slavery that exits in our world today.

God invites us to listen to his voice. Imagine – if during Lent we spent some quiet time, just listening to God’s Son. We can examine our lives in a positive way to explore the areas of life that prevent us from fulfilling God’s dream for each one of us.

Do you remember when you got house-exam results in School with the comment ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT? Lent is a time to improve (spring clean?) the lavish house in our hearts and make room for the ‘message of eternal life’ which is the response of today’s psalm. This will lead us to a lasting freedom from slavery of mind, body and spirit. Allow this third week of Lent for is to experience the gift of HOPE as we journey in this wilderness and offer that same gift to others. May God bless you and your loved ones this blessed Lent!

‘I invite all Christians, everywhere, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them … The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realise that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.’ Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium


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