(Based on Exod 20:1-17, 1 Cor 1:22-25 and Jn 2:13-25 – 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year B)
This story is told in a particular kingdom, wherein a famous Christian artist – known for his paintings and art…
… once drew a beautiful painting of Christ Crucified – with the caption – “The King reigns on the Throne of the Cross. Is He reigning also on the throne of your lives?”
This painting was gifted to the king on his birthday, with a grand unveiling ceremony…
… with a request by the painter, to place the painting in a prominent place in the palace.
Seeing the painting, many of the court officials including the ministers were dumbfounded and bewildered…
… along with being apprehensive on what would be the reaction of the king.
But the king arose from his throne…
… commanded that his throne be removed from the regular place.
And holding up the spectacular painting, the king placed it right in the place where his throne was – the most prominent place in the palace – as he announced:
“There is no greater King than the Lord Himself! He deserves the most prominent place – in our hearts, in this kingdom and in this palace!”
Realization of the greatness of the Lord and giving Him His due honour and priority in our lives…
… is indeed one of the most vital aspect of our life
And this top prioritization alone can ensure the upholding of the “Sense of the Sacred” in our lives!
God is Holy.
And all matters pertaining to God, has a “Sense of the Sacred.”
Worship becomes meaningful, when one becomes aware of this Sense of the Sacred.
Preaching becomes powerful, when one is convinced of this Sense of the Sacred.
Liturgy becomes heart-touching, when one acknowledges this Sense of the Sacred.
Today we need to make an examination…
Is my Worship of God becoming merely external, and losing its inner values?
Is my Liturgy more a ritualistic and obligatory exercise, than truly an experiential one?
Is my Preaching of God reduced to great talks, but devoid of conviction and passion?
If the answer to any of the above questions is a Yes…
… then we are perhaps losing the Sense of the Sacred.
The Gospel of the day presents a classic case of this loss of the Sacred Sense.
The Temple of Jerusalem is desecrated by a loss of the Sacred Sense and Jesus seeks to restore it by cleansing the temple.
“In the temple, Jesus found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.
Making a whip of cords, He drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.” (Jn 2:14-15)
The Jerusalem Temple was very dear to the faith of the people of Israel.
Worshipping in this temple was the ultimate for the Israelites, in their honouring of God.
At the Passover, Jews from around the world came to the temple to sacrifice to the Lord (Ex. 12:1-28; Lev 23:4-8).
It was highly impractical to bring sacrificial animals long distances.
So they were made available in the Jerusalem Temple!
Most Jews also paid the temple tax during the Passover.
Since, they came from various places and bore pagan Roman seals, money-changers were there in the temple, to convert the Roman coinage into appropriate currency.
Pagan symbols on Roman money made it unacceptable for Yahweh’s house.
Where there is money, corruption slowly creeps in…!
Pilgrims had to pay exorbitant rates to change money, and sellers exploited those in poverty, overcharging for the poor man’s offering of pigeons and doves (Lev. 5:7).
To make things worse, these merchants set up shop in the Court of the Gentiles, making it useless as a place of prayer due to the hustle and bustle of the buying and the selling of goods.
Though not inherently evil, these practices became occasions for sin.
What started for a noble cause, led to immense corruption.
There began the loss of the “Sense of the Sacred”…
And this is so true in our own lives…
The beginning of the loss of the Sense of the Sacred begins with trivial things.
I allow little delays and some relaxations in my prayer life…
And suddenly, I find no excitement in spending time in prayer.
I allow laxity and silence and indifference in my relationships…
And suddenly, I find no meaning in many of my relations…
I allow unpreparedness and disinterest to walk into my celebration and participation of Mass…
And suddenly, I find not meaning in the Holy Eucharist.
The loss of the Sense of the Sacred happens in a very subtle and quiet way.
And unless, we remain vigilant and careful, we can lose our way in spiritual warfare.
It is this reminder and warning that the Lord delivers today, by cleansing the Jerusalem Temple
“Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” (Jn 2:16b)
Today we have converted many of the places into “marketplaces”…
Today we have badly defiled the “Sense of the Sacred” in many places…
Cinemas and movies have a heavy stench of vulgarity and indecency.
They rob the society of its ethical culture and moral innocence.
Posters, hoardings and advertisements have become mediums of immorality and offensiveness
They rob its viewers of their principles and convictions in life.
The Internet and new media are badly misused to become snares of promoting life-threatening and life-abusing activities.
They rob its users of their proper purposes & instead addict them to many compulsions & cravings which are hard to be given up.
Families and communities often become places lacking in genuine love, unity and peace
They rob one of the chance to grow in a spirit of sharing and understanding.
Our bodies are often manipulated with many addictions, improper practices and ungodly behaviours.
They rob the person of the purity and holiness that is engraved deep within.
The Cleansing of the Jerusalem Temple is a strong reminder for us, to check the areas and the manner in which we have lost the Sense of the Sacred…
We complain that the world is becoming more materialistic and less spiritual.
We complain that the Church is becoming more “worldly” and less inspiring.
One of the root problems lies in the fact, that we perhaps losing the “Sense of the Sacred”
Unless I am in awe of the God who has created this beautiful and majestic world, I will continue to abuse and misuse the world.
Unless I am in wonder of the God who has gifted the Church with life-saving sacraments, I will continue to blame the Church and lose precious graces that I can obtain through her.
Let us revive the “Sense of the Sacred”.
Let us cleanse anything which diminishes this “Sense of the Sacred”
Let us become a people who radiate with joy and enthusiasm this “Sense of the Sacred”
Yes, let us enthrone and accord the Lord – the King of kings and the Lord of lords – the most prominent place in our hearts, in our lives and in our families!
May we always offer an optimistic answer to the question:
“The King reigns on the Throne of the Cross. Is He reigning also on the throne of your lives?”
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
THE FREEDOM OF FAITH
To be human, “man’s response to God by faith must be free…
… and therefore, nobody is to be forced to embrace the faith against his will.
The act of faith is of its very nature a free act. God calls men to serve him in spirit and in truth.
Consequently they are bound to him in conscience, but not coerced!
This fact received its fullest manifestation in Christ Jesus. Indeed, Christ invited people to faith and conversion, but never coerced them…
… “For he bore witness to the truth but refused to use force to impose it on those who spoke against it. His kingdom grows by the love with which Christ, lifted up on the cross, draws men to Himself! (CCC # 160)