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BEWARE OF THE RIGHTEOUS ANGER OF JESUS

Father Francis's picture
Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Apoc. 110:8-11 & Lk. 19:45-48

The Book of Revelation was written at a time when the Church was undergoing persecution, and so it was written in a veiled style so that it would not be understood by pagans. As a result much of its meaning remains obscure for us today!

What is the meaning of the scroll in today’s passage? The description of eating a scroll also appears in Ezekiel and refers to the Old Testament scriptures. In our text it could quite easily include the writings of the New Testament. One interpretation sees the bitter-sweet taste of the scroll as a symbol of the Christian life. The scroll is sweet because it proclaims the great triumph of Jesus through His death and resurrection, a triumph in which the whole Church shares. The scroll is bitter because the triumph of Jesus was achieved through His sufferings.

There may be some of Jesus’ teachings which seem unpalatable to us. But we cannot be selective about them. If we want to enjoy the sweetness of the Gospel message, then sometimes we might have to swallow some bitter pills as well.

The obscurity of the Book of Revelation can also serve as a reminder to us that the ways of God are mysterious, so different from the ways of the world. No one would have thought that the best way to bring about the salvation of the world would be through God asking His only Son to suffer the cruellest of all deaths. Would any loving parent ask this of their only son?

God's plan for Jesus was that pain led to joy, suffering led to happiness and death led to life. If we are to live like Jesus the same must be true for us. We too must accept our sufferings and death as a way of gaining eternal life.

In today’s Gospel passage we find Our Lord in the Temple and He is very irate. It was because of the business activity that was taking place there. This was, in a sense, a profanation of God’s house. The Temple of Jerusalem contained, veiled behind a massive curtain, the Holy of Holies, where God’s mysterious presence dwelt. Jesus was deeply offended by the commercialisation as animals for sacrifice were sold, foreign currency exchanged and goods bartered. The Temple had the appearance of a marketplace.

Perhaps Jesus could have tolerated these activities if they had been conducted in an honest way. But He was indignant at the dishonesty of the merchants. This was the reason why He cleansed His Father's House with more than a little righteous anger.

I have preached in many churches and a complaint made to me by many a priest and parishioner is that often their churches, too, are like marketplaces, with some people talking too much and showing little or no reverence for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Some priests even display a notice in a prominent place that silence should be observed in the church and it makes no difference! Isn’t this sad? I remember when I visited Buckingham Palace to receive the MBE from Her Majesty the Queen, I was struck by the silence and reverence shown to her. Yet when Catholics come to the home of Jesus, the King of Kings, He is not given that same reverence! It can only mean people are not aware that the King of Kings is truly present, in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in our Catholic churches. If they were they would show Him the same reverence The Queen is shown in Buckingham Palace!

Jesus was on fire with zeal for the house of His Father and determined that it be respected as a house of prayer. Silence, worship and prayer are elements that should be an essential part of every visit to a church, especially for Sunday Mass. In the tabernacle of every Catholic Church, Our Lord is present in the Eucharist as a prisoner of love waiting to enter into dialogue with us. We are never closer to Heaven than when we are before Our Eucharistic Lord. Yet we can forget this truth. Our postures, chatter and dress might contribute to a general profanation of God’s house. Do we try to remember every time we enter a church that we are standing before Our Lord Who made Heaven and Earth? Can others see that we believe Jesus is really present in the Eucharist? Is He the centre of our attention? Can we put aside all distractions?

Lord Jesus, if there have been times when we entered Church distractedly and forgotten that You were present, we beg Your forgiveness as we ask to be zealous witnesses of Your love. Help us to honour our promise to show You greater reverence in the Blessed Sacrament in future.

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