Experiencing God the Father through Jesus’s broken body
Today is the Third Sunday of Lent. The Church invites us to continue our reflection on Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection as we share in this Paschal feast. If we go back to the readings, especially the gospels from week one to week four: they are actually interconnected or geographically linked.
On the First Sunday, after His Baptism, the Spirit led Jesus into the desert. He stayed there for forty days and forty nights in prayer, fasting and was tempted by the devil. But God came to His rescue through His angels. I call this Jesus’ desert experience with God.
On the Second Sunday, Jesus brought His three disciples on the top of the mountain and Jesus there changed in appearance while praying. I call this the mountaintop experience of Jesus in His encounter with God.
Today’s gospel is the cleansing of the temple by Jesus. The temple is a place of special encounter with God. In other words, the desert, the mountain and the temple are places of special encounters with God.
The journey of Jesus started from the desert or the rural areas, then to the mountaintop now to Jerusalem. Jesus is getting closer and closer to his suffering and final destination.
The questions for each one of us to reflect on: where is our faith at this Lenten journey of 2021? Are we with Jesus in the temple this weekend or are we still in the desert or are we still experiencing the mountaintop’s transfiguration?
Let us go back and explore this Sunday’s Gospel; the gospel this Sunday is divided into two parts: part one is the anger of Jesus, and part two is talking about the parallel comparison between the temple of Jerusalem and Jesus’s bodily temple – a real message of Lent.
Part one – we are not going to see the glorious face of Jesus; we are going to see His angry face. Jesus is not happy with what He sees precisely because the way the temple worship has been organized no longer reflects God’s original idea of a worshipping community. He found people selling animals and exchanging money in His Father’s house. Making a whip, Jesus drives the animals out and overturns the table of the money changers. As our modern language, we would say that Jesus lost his temper.
Somehow, we are tempted to stay with this imagery of Jesus’s anger and forget the most important message of this gospel is the second part.
Part two – of today’s gospel is our invitation to experience Jesus’s broken body for Lent this year. The invitation to value and appreciate the body of Jesus as the temple that has been broken for us. The body that we all say ‘Amen’ to when the Special Minister or the priest says ‘The body of Christ’ at communion. The body that is broken to bring us back here every weekend, to bring us together for worshipping despite our many differences. One broken body bring union, hope, comfort and reassurance of all generations.
During this Lenten season, let us remind one another again of the bodily temple of Jesus who was broken for each one of us. And inviting one another to receive the Eucharist today and fully participate into the sacrifice of Jesus during this Lenten journey.