March 7, 2021
Jesus, with righteous anger, cleanses the Temple, protesting the corruption of the Sacred Institutions of His people. We are facing much corruption today, including in the Church. What lessons can we learn from Jesus about how to fight this effectively?
- The root of corruption is sin and only God can bring about the effect of lasting triumph.
- Jesus was acting with righteous anger against the hypocrisy within the Temple and scared institutions.
- To root out our corruption, we must seek God’s will and be attentive to His timing to act.
- To root out our corruption is to follow Jesus ‘s example of ‘building up’ and not ‘tearing down’ which makes things worse.
- To root out corruption is to use Jesus’s example of good strategy which is divine love – self-giving and sacrifice.
- At the moment of Offertory in the Mass, we can help bring about the renewal of the Church and the triumph of His kingdom.
In the Gospel today, Jesus is reacting against the corruption in the temple, the buying and selling, but the corruption is not just in the temple, but the sacred institutions of God’s people that had been corrupted. At the root of corruption is sin. Only God can root this out, this problem, from its roots. Only He can bring about the effect of lasting triumph. We see Jesus acting here with righteous anger.
It’s not always easy for our anger to be righteous anger, there’s a danger of the devil using our anger to corrupt us. The hatred of evil becomes a hatred of persons, and Satan ends up winning. The first point Father makes is that if we really want to root out corruption, we need to seek God’s will and obey God. The second point is that Jesus builds up, not just tears down. The most important part is building up. The third point is the strategy of Jesus for fighting corruption is a strategy of divine love. A strategy of self-giving more than anger. We can offer the pain and the sufferings that the corruption we are dealing with today in union with the sacrifice of Jesus to bring about the triumph of God.
“In the temple, Jesus found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money changers that their business and making a whip of cords He drove them out with the sheep and oxen, all out of the temple, He poured the coins at the money changers and overturn their tables. And He told those who sold the pigeons take these away, you shall not make My Father’s house, a house of trade.” Jesus is reacting against the corruption and the temple, the buying and selling. Not just in the temple is their corruption, but the sacred institutions of God’s people had been corrupted, the priesthood, the Scribes and Pharisees teaching. They who Jesus, in other parts of the gospel, speaks of their hypocrisy, because they pretend to be working for God, representatives of God, and they have become obstacles to God, anti-God, anti his Messiah, anti his Christ. We’re in a situation in our world today in which there’s extreme corruption, much corruption in our institutions, including in our Church. So what should we do? And I want to meditate, because I think there’s a lot of lessons in this passage, and it’s going to be a lot to cover in one homily. So that’s why we record these harmonies in case you want to listen again, so at the end you’re not saying what was Father saying? What would a person do, facing corruption, who had no fear of any power, who himself had all power? Who was wise and knew everything, and was only seeking God’s glory in the salvation of souls, and was willing to make any sacrifice for that? What would this person do? And that’s the example we have in the Gospel today, of Jesus. We see Jesus with righteous anger, showing a rare sign of violence. There’s not many signs of Jesus acting violently in the Gospel, but He does it actually twice in the Gospel, at the beginning, and at the end of His ministry. And so, as I said, I wanted to reflect a little bit on this, how He responds to corruption, how He can guide us, so that we can be realistic about the problem and our response. We don’t want to be like those who just kind of weed, but the weed just pops up again. We want to get to the root of this, and the root is sin. We see Jesus acting here with righteous anger. The Gospel says, “zeal for your house will consume Me,” but we know it for us, it’s not always easy for our anger to be righteous anger, there’s a danger of the devil using our anger, to corrupt us. The hatred of evil become a hatred of persons, and satan ends up winning. The scripture says, “the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.” If it’s just human anger, it’s not going to work the righteousness of God. So a key point is that only God can root this out, this problem, from its roots. Only He can bring about the effect of lasting triumph. Does that mean we don’t do anything, if only God can do it? No, God wants our cooperation. So I want to focus on three ways that we can cooperate. The first point is maybe a little bit hidden in this Gospel, that can consider when Jesus, in the first point, is seeking God’s will. If we really want to root out corruption, we need to seek God’s will, obey God. Think that this problem, it seems that this problem in the Temple had been going on for some time. This was not the first year that it happened. Jesus had been going up to the temple for many years, and yet He hadn’t done anything until this moment. For years He had been going up, and He had been silent, He hadn’t done anything. He had suffered in silence. How come? Because it wasn’t yet His time. He was seeking the Father’s will, and it wasn’t yet the time that the Father had decreed. So that’s an important point, when we’re seeking God’s will, when is the right time, because timing can be very important. There’s a famous passage from Ecclesiastes, which says, “there’s a time for everything, a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” During the time for silence, Jesus had been silent. When the time came to speak, He spoke. And that’s an important point, that we be attentive to God’s timing. There’s even a more fundamental question, what does God want me to do? What does God want you to do? Think, as we mentioned a couple of weeks ago about St. Joseph, St. Joseph also had been going up to the Temple, and yet he had kept silent, because it wasn’t what God was asking him to do. The root of the problem, the root of corruption is always sin, and sin is disobedience to God. So the true solution to every corruption, to every evil, always begins with obedience to God, seeking God’s will. So that’s the first point, seeking God’s will. Jesus is seeking God’s will, and He acts when it’s time to act. The second point is that Jesus builds up, not just tears down. Tearing down is much easier than building up. There are many revolutionaries, who are very good at tearing down. Very good at destroying. There are many revolutions which began with people denouncing evil, which is true, which is very corrupt. So they tear the institution’s down, but they end up making things worse instead of better. The hard work, which takes skill, and perseverance is building up. And so we see that most of Jesus’s ministry is building up. Here, in a sense, He’s tearing down, but most of His ministry is building up. And so that’s an important point, that the most important part is building up. The third point, I think, is the one I really want to focus on today, the strategy, if we could call it that of Jesus, His strategy for fighting corruption. It’s surprising, and it’s hard. If he takes it, it’s because it’s the most effective, the only effective to triumph over corruption. So what does Jesus say? He says, “destroy this temple, and in three days, I will raise it up.” And the Gospel says that He’s talking about the temple, not of the building, but of His body, which He wiil raise up, which the Father will raise up in His resurrection. John says that this is happening at the Passover, this Gospel is happening at the Passover. So the very time, a few short years later, in which Jesus will experience His Passover, His passion. Jesus knows the by courageously, so this is the beginning of His ministry, by courageously denouncing the corruption of the temple and of the institutions of the temple, the priesthood, He knows that He is beginning the process, which will lead to His sacrifice. The true way that Jesus will renew the Temple, the true Temple of the people of God, is by His sacrifice and His resurrection. So the strategy of Jesus for dealing with corruption is an unusual strategy. It’s a strategy of self-giving more than anger. It’s a strategy of self-giving, of sacrifice, of the cross of divine love. His strategy against corruption is a strategy of divine love. What seemed foolish and weak to many people, many people listening to Him. We just heard the reading from St. Paul, who says, “God seems foolish and weak to the world. But the foolishness of God is wiser than the world in the weakness of God is more powerful than the world.” What Jesus wants to do is reach down to the very roots of the corruption. And His efforts seem, at first foolish, but they’re ultimately effective, for renewing the people of God, not just His risen body, but the Mystical Body of Jesus, the Church, the Church, which we see right now, often struggling, and wounded by a lot of corruption, but which is already present in Heaven, triumphant, Holy, and glorious. And one day, the Church will only be triumphant, Holy, and glorious. That’s what Jesus is working to bring about. So what does that mean for us, as we face situations, of great corruption, and most sadly, in the Church? We’re called to follow the path of Jesus, that in the path, which is a path of sacrifice. I want to make clear, it doesn’t mean that we have to necessarily add more sacrifices to our life, add more suffering. Many times there’s enough suffering in our lives. But we can take the suffering in our lives that’s already present, present or past, and we can offer it to the Lord. We can make of the suffering, a sacrifice. That’s why in our Church, we have the Crucifix of Jesus. Jesus takes an injustice caused by corruption and evil, which is causing extreme pain, and He makes of that pain, of that suffering, not something useless, which evil seems to think is victorious. It looks like a victory of evil, but by offering it, He changes the suffering and the action of evil into a triumph. That’s the power of His sacrifice. What seems to be at first a triumph of evil, by His offering sacrifice, He changes it into the victory of God, which will lead to the resurrection. And so that the suffering Jesus speaks about those who are hungry and thirsty for justice. I hear many times, in this past year, especially I’ve heard many people and recently, speaking of how much they’re suffering, because of what’s going on in our society, and what’s going on in the Church. It’s causing a lot of suffering, that we can offer that suffering that satan is causing, to God, in union with the sacrifice of Jesus, to bring about the triumph of God, of His kingdom. In conclusion, this situation we’re facing is God’s battle. If we only respond humanly, we will fail. Better if we seek God and cooperate with Him, we will be part of the triumph. So the three lessons I mentioned today, were we can seek His will, we can build up more than tearing down, and above all, offer the pain, the sufferings that it’s causing us, in union with the sacrifice of Jesus. And we can do that, right now in this Mass, especially in the moment of the offertory. We can bring all the suffering, that this is causing us, and it is causing many others that we know, and bring it all and unite it to the cross of Jesus, because that’s what we’re living right now, we, in the Church, are living a cross, the passion of Jesus. And it’s an opportunity to offer that. It’s very difficult, but it’s an opportunity to offer that so that we can help bring about the triumph, the renewal of His church, and the triumph of His kingdom. Amen.