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Third Sunday,Lent,B.March26,Jn.2:13-25

3rd Sunday of Lent B,Mar.26

Addressing the people gathered in the Holocaust Memorial in Israel a couple of days ago, the Holy Father expressed his anguish and heart-felt pain in the following words: “In this place of memories, the mind and heart and soul feel an extreme need for silence. Silence in which to remember. Silence in which to try to make some sense of the memories which come flooding back.” Holy Father adds further: “ We wish to remember….But we wish to remember for a purpose, namely to ensure that never again will evil prevail, as it did for the millions of innocent victims of Nazism.”

These words of the Holy Father are not addressed to that small audience only but to all of us and ask us to reject evil and all its powers that conjure to destroy the peace of our soul.

The readings from today’s Scriptures take us to a path of renewal and rebirth. In the first reading from the Book of Exodus, the people of Israel are reminded of the covenant they entered with God and of the demand that they should observe the commandments given to them by God.

The commandments, we know, form the core of our moral lives as they were for the Israelites. But very often we look at the commandments more as restrictions than as messages of love from a Father who loves us deeply and cares about us. We should see them as helping us to build a strong and loving relationship with God as well as with our neighbors. The commandments are not to be seen as increasing the burden of guilt but as furnishing us the right paths of life to help us to enjoy inner peace and joy.

When we worship wealth, show disrespect to our parents and ignore the needs of our spiritual life, we are falling into the trap of a culture that tries to destroy what is vital and essential in our lives—the peace in our hearts. The culture, the media, and everything around us propagate an attitude that is counter to the spirit of the commandments which raises us to level of the children of God. As the Holy Father said yesterday at his mass on the Mount of Beatitudes, “The Ten commandments of Sinai may seem negative…But in fact they are supremely positive.” He adds, “ Moving beyond the evil they name, they point the way to the law of love which is the first and greatest of the commandments.”

Jesus has summarized all the commandments into two: Loving God with all our heart and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. Whatever may be our ethnic heritages, political ideologies, educational backgrounds or professional achievements, we have only one language to speak and communicate with: the language of love.

But it is there that we fail very miserably. Our families and work places experience tremendous strain and tension because of our selfishness, biting or wounding remarks, unwillingness to reach out, offer forgiveness or of lack of sensitivity. Instead of love changing and molding our lives, we allow our selfishness to dominate our attitudes to one another.

In today’s Gospel, through the cleansing of the Temple, Jesus shows how necessary it is for us to keep our loves focused on the most important aspect of our lives—our relationship with God. It should not be bartered away for any other good, comfort or convenience.

But our hearts, God’s temples are being pulled in different directions by our excessive greed, pride, and selfishness. We forget the needs of other people; we become very insensitive, we are impatient and uncharitable to people who work and live with us. We make our hearts houses of thieves and aggressors. Today Jesus invites to undergo a change of heart and perceptions, to offer our hearts again as an abode of peace and love.

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