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3rd Sunday of Lent (B) --- The Zeal of Christ

Growing up in a very large extended close-knit family, we often found ourselves playing games of some sort when we were all younger. Whether it was Nintendo, board games, or sports --- we all got a thrill over competition. I like to think that we enjoyed competition so as to help each other become the best that we could at a particular activity, but sometimes the activity got way out of hand. Because I was one of the least competitive of the bunch, when I won, folks might get a bit more frustrated than normal. They might rage-quit a video game turning off the system. They might flip over the table or board upon which we were playing a board game. They might even refuse to give the ball back so we could commence a sports game Does this sound familiar at all?

In Today’s Gospel from the Gospel of John, Jesus finds himself traveling to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. Around this Feast, many folks would come to the temple area to make sacrifices. But around Jesus’s era, people began to profit off of others who wanted to make sacrifices. They set up booths outside in order to sell animals to sacrifice. They would have moneychangers which basically allowed people to walk into the temple with coins without the face of the Emperor on them. Anything that had an image on it was seen as an idol. But of course, when they would leave the temple, they could exchange their faceless coins for coins with the emperor’s face again. A lot of times, the faceless coin had a little less value than the original coin that was traded. And when they came out of the temple, sometimes they would receive an even lesser value coin.So seeing all of the commotion, Jesus is not happy. The Temple was meant for worship – not the marketplace. So Jesus runs over and overturns some of the tables and runs out some of the vendors. So of course, the authorities stop him to inquire as to why He did what He did. “What sign can you show us,” they ask. Jesus responds, “destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” They just don’t get it, but those who know the end of the story would know and His disciples would eventually find out.

I think that one of the most common interpretations for what Jesus did is “anger.” If we were to read the Gospel over and over again, we'd never see the word "anger" used. In fact, the word we often miss is the word we replace with "anger," which is the word "zeal." The word “zeal” is defined as a sense of fervor or ardor for a person, cause, or object. Never is the word “anger” used in the definition. Jesus did what He did to make a point. Not only the obvious point that He points out, but the less obvious point is that when they look for signs, Jesus points to the resurrection.

Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus is zealous, but He isn't zeal for an object. He isn't so much as zealous for a building. Jesus's true zeal is for for God and for His people. If you were to read through the Gospel of John, the Gospel highlights Jesus’s interaction with people. The words He says and the cultural barriers He breaks He does it all because He wants to show His love: for God and for people.

I think sometimes we can let little things in life like games or objects to control us. Sometimes we strive more for objects than we do for people .It is as if these objects have some type of gravitational pull on us. Sometimes we think: "I can’t stop watching this TV show, I cant stop playing this game, I cant put down this book, I cant stop thinking about my finances, or I cant stop dreaming about that car, or house, or shoes, or clothes. The zeal Jesus has for people extends to us. He has a great longing for our hearts. He desires for us just to reach back to Him and trust Him, but sometimes I think we’d rather trust our objects.

If Jesus was willing to break down cultural barriers and if He was willing to put His life on the line for you and for me, don’t you think He is worthy of your trust?

Today, may we call upon that trust in Jesus and may we imitate the zeal He has for us. May we imitate that same zeal for others and for God. Many have done this throughout the last 2,000 years. Most of them are now called Saints.