Sunday, March 4, 2018

Severe or Sincere. (2018-03-04, Lent)

4 March 2018  3rd Sunday Lent (B)
Exodus 20:1-17   Psalm 19  ● 1 Corinthians 1:22-25  ●  + John 2:13-25

Title:  “Severe or Sincere”

[__01__]    Rarely did I witness my father and mother so SEVERE – so ANGRY – as they were after an episode in which a baseball coach left his team unsupervised for several hours and caused a risk and dangerous condition. My brother was on the team.
          Or, should I say – as a result – my brother was no longer on the team, because he was immediately withdrawn from the team despite the fact that he was their star pitcher and player.
          Severe.  He knew better than to complain about the result.
[* * * pause * * *]

[__02__]     In the Gospel episode of this 2nd chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus is SEVERE in his reaction.
          I touch on the fact that he gives us a model of how to be – in the Christian and charitable sense – SEVERE, AUSTERE, and SINCERE.
[* * * pause * * *]

[__03__]     First. SEVERE.
          Jesus, our Lord and Savior, packs a punch in this episode, though there are no actual fisticuffs or hand-to-hand (mano a mano) combat.
          Where,  to whom, and at when  (what season or time) was our Lord taking this severe action?
          Where? The place / setting is the Jerusalem Temple. The time is the season of Passover when when observant, devout Jews – individuals and families – would go from their hometown, with some of their money to the Temple.
          There were money changers and merchants outside the Temple.
          What Jesus objects to is the extent to which these sacrifices are measured only in material or monetary terms.
          In Psalm 51, we are reminded similarly: “in sacrifice, God, you take no delight, burnt offering from me you would refuse, a humbled contrite heart you will not spurn.”
          The SEVERITY and severe reaction of Jesus are made because he detects in the buying and the selling only money, not meditation.
[__04__]      You have probably heard a story like this, or learned this lesson yourself.  After my good friend, Robert, got engaged and later married, his wife told him that he all she wanted for her birthday was a “card with words”.
          A card with words. So, he went to the store, bought some Hallmark product, signed his name, Love, Robert put it an envelope.
          She was not pleased and reminded – I did not want a card with Hallmark’s words… but your words.
          Jesus is reminding the people that the Lord desires their repentance first, not their remuneration.

[__05__]    SEVERITY is Good News, when it is combined with love and tenderness.  Severity can coexist with love and becomes SINCERITY and purpose.       Consider the discipline we might apply to a technique on the court, on the playing field, to a visual or musical art, or to our own homes.
          In this Our Lady of Lourdes – God’s house – so many of you care for our altar, altar furnishings, decorations, with great zeal, vigilance, enthusiasm, precision.
[__06__]    SEVERITY might seem to be the message of the 10 Commandments in the Book of Exodus today. 7 of the 10 Commandments start with “thou shalt not…”  Yes, these  are clear lins that we are told not to cross.
          However, do we not also recognize that within the boundaries of the Commandments, as in the boundaries of a marriage, or of a family, the Lord is also trying to give us peace, tranquility in following his ways. [__fin__]  

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