Third Sunday of Lent

How are we to explain the anger of Christ in today’s gospel? At what was it directed and why so explosive? Why was it so violent and indeed one might ask was it justified?

When Pope Benedict the 16th wrote about this gospel of the moneychangers and a pigeon Sellers in the temple he explains the anger of Christ by saying that they were abusing the courtyard of the Gentiles. That courtyard was where all could come gentile or Jew or true believer or nonbeliever. It was a place where you could ask questions meet those who were expert and perhaps in modern parlance  search for the meaning of life. It was immediately before the place known as the holy of holies which no one could enter unless of a very privileged Priestly caste. The courtyard was a place of search, encounter and enquiry. The anger of Christ was directed at those who were preventing the genuine enquirer from approaching God and of wanting to know more. It was about stopping those who had honest questions about the thirst and hunger of the human soul. It was as though a material, physical and worldly roadblock was being used to suffocate the human soul. As John says in today’s gospel “he could tell what a man had in him“. Namely Christ understood the human condition and where his innate restlessness lay. In the second reading from Saint Paul we hear of how “the Jews demand miracles and the Greeks look for wisdom-here are we preaching a crucified Christ“. Paul is telling us that there are many attempts to satisfy human thirst and hunger but ultimately it is only the love that pours forth from the heart of the broken body of Christ that will satisfy.

Christ knows better than us both because through him we were created but also he being the perfect man of how we are constituted. He knows what we need to bring us peace and all that is engendered in the assurance of heaven. The crime of the pigeon sellers and money changers is that they were stopping the people, the Gentiles and us from knowing who we truly are and what will satisfy the hunger of the human heart. Ultimately it is the search for God which leads in the fullness of time under grace to crucified love. In this search we can do no better than to ask Mary our Mother to explain to us the joy and glory which is the love of Christ made present in the Blessed sacrament.

All of us I am sure are craving a return to normality perhaps by way of going to the pub, the possibility of meeting our friends or to travel. All of which are fine in themselves but let us not forget that our true thirst and hunger is for God, his love and peace and heaven. Don’t forget we have our own pigeon sellers and moneychangers who do not understand “what a person has inside them“ for they want to satisfy and satiate our thirst with the physical and material. One of the greatest sadnesses of this time is that our politicians have not known how to or not been encouraged to use a spiritual language not by way of sympathy but by way of instruction and advice.

This is why always and in every moment of every day in every church where there is the Blessed sacrament we have to help people across from the courtyard of the Gentiles. In passing through that courtyard they can enter the holy of holies where they will meet unconditional love in the crucified Christ. We have to make sure that that journey whether it is from Soho Square or anywhere else is made easy and straightforward. We need to have the righteous anger of Christ if there are people or indeed our lack of zeal which is preventing the genuine Searcher and enquirer from making that journey. Let us never forget that Christ is here and that according to the gospel today “he could tell what a man had in him“ and therefore it is a lesson we need to learn as we meet the people of our time.