The Year B Gospel from St. John is the story of the money changers in the temple. You may remember: Jesus overturns the tables of the money changers because they are cheating the people and using the Temple as a marketplace—turning the temple into a den of thieves instead of the place of prayer it was meant to be. The Disciples recall the Scripture describing a Messiah that says about him: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
The Year A Gospel (also St. John) is the story of the woman at the well in Samaria. In the course of the story Jesus says: “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work. Jesus also speaks of never being thirsty again. I thought about those disparate statements from two different scripture stories and what struck me was consumed and food and fulfillment.
I went back to the First Reading for B Cycle and it was about Moses and the Ten Commandments. The first three Commandments are all about our fundamental spiritual orientation and focus. The First says: “You shall not have other gods before me.” We must not worship anything else but God, the Father. The Second: “You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.” Words are powerful as they have the power to wound and kill and shape attitudes of us, of those around us and the world in which we live. The Third: “Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.” We are obliged to concretize our worship of God as a Community of faith. So: the question is: who or what, precisely, is the object of our worship?
If we are honest with ourselves we can see that there are a lot of things that come first in our lives before God: money, power, pleasure, status, addiction—all about us, all about our own egos. It is time: we need to cleanse our temples and turn the tables! We need to drink from the well of eternal life and have zeal for our Father’s house only. Lent is the time to reconsider (to reform, to transfigure) what we deem most important, what we prioritize—to see what idols are operating in us and in our choices. In doing this we will be fed and satisfied by our actions for good and for holiness; we will work in this field of souls for the Kingdom of God—we will be consumed by our faith and love of God alone, fed and fulfilled by it only.
What idols operate in you and your home? The psalm for Year B (19) says: “The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart, refreshing the soul.” The Year A Psalm (95) reminds us that when we hear God’s voice, do not harden your hearts--bow down in worship, come into God’s presence with thanksgiving.
The Scripture says it all today—whatever year or cycle you consider, it is simple, really: No idols—and follow the Commandments. To understand this is to undergo personal reconciliation, to change our hearts, inward not outward work—to journey on the road to salvation, keeping to the path of holiness. St Paul tells us (Year B): “…we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit…” Words to live by…
Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a Note: Here are two lovely songs about idols—I included the extra Jimmy Needham so you can read the lyrics, or you can just listen carefully…