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Do simple acts to respect your house of prayer

Readings for March 2-3, Third Sunday of Lent

By Lyn Zahorik | For On Mission

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus acts in a very non “Jesus-like” manner. Picture yourself as a merchant who has snuck into the Temple area to sell your wares. As the crowds mill about, you hear stories of a man named “Jesus.” He is reported to be a wonder worker, kind and compassionate to all he meets.

Suddenly, a man comes storming into the Temple, waving a whip, overturning tables, sending coins and wares crashing to the floor. Peering from under the table where you have taken refuge, you hear people murmur, “It’s Jesus!” Jesus, wait, what?

This scenario does not align with “our” Jesus, who is Good Shepherd. The Scripture explains that, in this instance, Jesus was filled with zeal. An uncredited quote says, “Zeal is a fervent passion, an unwavering fire that ignites the soul propelling it toward distant horizons.”

It is compelling that Jesus exhibited this kind of zeal days before he would be led to Golgotha. Think about the discouragement and disappointment he was feeling when, after three years of preaching God’s Kingdom, people still turned away from him. 

How many of us would have given up and returned to Nazareth to live out our life as a carpenter? However, Jesus embraced that fire in his soul, despite the cross looming in his distant horizon. He committed a dangerous act of love. In clearing the temple of merchants, he was showing reverence for the things of God, as well as protecting those who truly desired to worship.

Our parish church is God’s holy place. Those of you who are pastors or parish staff, look at your gathering spaces or vestibule. Are the first things people encounter upon entering the parish church posters about upcoming collections, parish fundraising events or items that are for sale? Does their placement overshadow that people are entering a house of prayer? 

Is there prominent signage directing people to where they can seek out the sacrament of reconciliation? How are you calling people’s attention to religious activities in your parish, such as the rosary, the Stations of the Cross or Eucharistic Adoration?

For those of us who enter our church, do we treat it as a house of prayer? How do we engage?

Gathering areas provide a suitable place to visit with other members of the community, but when we are in church proper, do we allow it to be a place of prayer? Do we show simple acts of respect, such as putting music books back in holders and taking our used tissues with us?

Although Jesus drove out the money changer from the Temples, we must acknowledge that money is needed for the good and holy purposes at our parish. Are you as generous as you can be in supporting the upkeep and development of your parish church and programs?

May zeal consume us. Best if we leave wielding the whip and table-upending to Jesus, yet follow his example of protecting and honoring the holiness of our church.

Zahorik is director for spiritual engagement at St. Mary Parish, Omro, and St. Mary Parish, Winneconne.

The readings for Sunday, March 3, can be found at Third Sunday of Lent | USCCB.

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