Third Sunday of Lent - 4th March, 2018

Liturgical Reflection

 
John 2: 13-25


Jesus Questions the Authorities
 

‘After a lifetime contributing to the Catholic Church, Neil Ormerod could give no more.  Following a Sunday Mass in 2014, the Australian Catholic University theology professor told his parish priest he no longer trusted the church to use its resources in a way Jesus Christ would approve.’

This is the beginning of an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald dated February 12, 2018.

It would not be newsworthy except that Neil Ormerod is a professor at the Australian Catholic University and although at times critical he is usually a supporter of ‘things Catholic’.  Many Catholics are making similar gestures, either with their money or their presence at church.  They are in fact ‘questioning the authorities’.

St Matthew reports Jesus as saying, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.  So you must be careful to do everything they tell you.  But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”

Here Jesus not only questions the intrinsic values of the authorities but urges us to question the behaviour of those who are called to teaching and leadership.

 

Today’s gospel has Jesus resorting to physical violence because he is so incensed at the advantage the moneychangers are enjoying at the expense of the faithful.  Instead of nurturing the faith they were preying upon the believers.

The modern day parallels are obvious.  Many are slipping, indeed some are striding away from the established churches.  So many people of faith are seeking guidance.  It will be interesting to see how the Holy Spirit chooses to nurture their spiritual needs.  I personally think that She is knocking some prelates’ heads together at the moment, but they don’t seem to be noticing.

The paradox of course is that without the established church we would not have the body of intellectual and scientific endeavour that has informed our faith for millennia, neither would we have the richness of art and music that gives depth and dimension to our spiritual lives.

In questioning the authorities Jesus gives us an example of courage and implies the need for discernment and action in the face of dubious behaviours.

This generation cannot allow the spiritual treasure of the church to be swamped by worldly and selfish concerns.  The people of faith who come after us will need the treasure that is the church just as we do.

Judith Croke