Jesus Goes Wild?
(Third Sunday in Lent)
Rev. Dominique Peridans
Home is where the heart is—they say.
Perhaps, ‘tis the place to which the heart,
shattered, scattered abroad, returns.
(from Gloria Squires, with whom I am unfamiliar)
I will draw all people to myself.
Jesus, on the Cross, “lifted up from the earth”, arms wide open,
the place to which our hearts,
shattered, scattered abroad, return.
He is our home.
And, all people are drawn, welcome, no heart left out.
That is inclusiveness.
The powerful embrace that transcends every imaginable tired political
Let’s take a quick look at this interaction,
A group of Gentiles come to Jerusalem during Passover
(when the Jews celebrate delivery from slavery) hoping to see Jesus.
Why the Temple?
As non-Jews, it’s not their Temple!
as early Church Father St. John Chrysostom (+407) suggests,
it was such a splendor, that even non-Jews honored the Temple with
Why do they want to see Jesus?
Well, as Jesus reveals, desire for God results from God attracting us.
Jesus is somehow attractive to them.
Why do they approach Phillip instead of Jesus?
The apostles were preaching to non-Jews.
Phillip, which means “mouth of the lantern”,
as mentioned in Acts, chapter 8, was the first apostle to preach to
Why does Phillip go to Andrew?
Perhaps out of respect for Andrew who became an apostle before
Then, as mediators, together Andrew and Phillip go to Jesus.
What is Jesus’ response?
If I were Jesus, I probably would have said,
“Awesome! Bring them in! Celebration! Mission being accomplished.”
Instead, initially odd, Jesus reveals his Passion and Death.
Jesus reveals that soon they—and all—will truly see.
Indeed, Jesus will say to the same Phillip, during the Last Supper
“Whoever sees me sees the Father.”
But his Passion and Death are to be understood
in the light of something seemingly unrelated: much mentioned glory.
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
His Passion and Death, in which, somehow,
his followers mysteriously participate, is ultimately about glory.
Jesus then says, “Father, glorify your name.”
And the Father, the voice come from heaven
—as at Jesus’ Baptism and Transfiguration,
responds, “I have glorified it and I will glorify it again.”
What is glory?
Some of you may recall the working definition I often propose (!):
glory is the radiance of God,
divine light and love, which, in God, are one, as they overflow.
Jesus’ mission: to communicate the glory of God.
In seeing these Gentiles coming, apparently ready,
Jesus says that the “hour” of His Passion and Death has come,
the time for the grain of wheat to fall into the earth and die,
and in so doing, to bear much fruit: glory.
Revelation too heavy for our hearts and too befuddling for our minds,
As St. Paul says, “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to
(I Corinthians 1:22).
At the Cross, however,
Jesus pours forth “attractive” light and love to overflowing
—so that death, which normally brings them to a screeching halt,
no longer bring them to a screeching halt.
Jesus doesn’t say,
“I will draw all people to myself after the Cross, when this mess is
We sell Jesus short when we only think of the Resurrection as the
The Cross as historic event is tragic.
The Cross as mystery is the communication of victorious light and
The Resurrection makes this reassuringly manifest.
As mentioned, then Jesus then reveals
that we are called to participate in the mystery of the Cross.
We don’t simply consider the historic event and hope to be moved.
We are to receive this light and love, eternally poured forth,
and to be instruments of it—to overflowing.
And, this is only possible by complete surrender,
put in frankly frightening terms as “hating one’s life”!
I don’t know about you but, without Jesus,
there is no way I can lay down my life for others.
If only we understood what God wishes to accomplish in and through
we would unclench our fists and receive more light and love.
Let us surrender to Jesus
—including the difficulty that we have to surrender to Him!
He is one step ahead of us.
He is not just on the back end of successful surrender.
We must indeed freely choose to surrender, but
Jesus is quietly bestowing grace on the front end of our surrender.
Hear the poignant question of Saint Jane de Chantal,
widowed at age 28, in 1601, with four children,
a broken-hearted French baroness who took a vow of chastity for
and eventually founded an order of nuns for women in poor health.
When shall we cast ourselves undeservedly into the arms
of our most loving Father in Heaven, leaving to Him the
care of ourselves and of our affairs, and reserving only the
desire of pleasing Him, and of serving Him well in all that
We continue our Lenten journey. Already the third Sunday!
Time flies when…resolutions unravel.
Hopes are dashed. And hopes are reborn.
Thankfully, it doesn’t take too long to realize that Lent is not about me.
Lent is not my time to get my act together, to trim the fat, so to speak.
Lent is about surrender, complete surrender to our Lord.
Sometimes, my inability to keep my Lenten resolutions is just what I need--
my fragility: a springboard to surrender.
To help us on this journey: John, chapter 2,
the surprising cleansing of the Temple,
which the synoptic gospel writers place towards the end of their gospels.
John, however, places this as Jesus’ second ministerial act
—rather strikingly contrasted with Jesus’ first ministerial act,
the miracle at the wedding feast in Cana.
From hand elevated in blessing to hand elevated with a whip of cords.
Seemingly: one extreme to the other, joy to anger, welcome to rejection. Personality analysis whiplash!
Although apparently day and night, both incidents, in their own way,
point to what is to come: the Cross.
Everything that Jesus says and does finds its culmination at the Cross.
Everything that Jesus says and does communicates divine love,
which the Cross does supremely.
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Of course, when we speak of the Cross, we speak also of the Resurrection.
The Resurrection makes manifest the loved poured forth on the Cross,
love veiled by suffering.
Lent is all about discovering Jesus, the friend, who lays down his life,
who gives us everything, pouring forth from his heart every last drop of love.
Now, here, as a good Jew, Jesus goes to the Temple for the feast of Passover,
in Jerusalem, where He will ultimately go, to the Cross.
He finds the Temple, house of prayer, His Father’s house,
not being used exactly as divinely intended.
Bear in mind, however, that the vendors are not selling just anything.
They are not selling cigarettes and ice cream and Jewish People magazine.
If I am not mistaken, they are selling things used for sacrifice in the Temple.
And the money-changers are exchanging Roman for Jewish coins,
which can then be placed in the collection basket
(yes, they too had a collection basket!).
The scenario is thus not that outrageous. Yet, Jesus seems to go wild.
He makes a whip of cords, evicts persons and animals,
spills coins and overturns tables.
There is a 1568 painting of this scene by Spanish painter, El Greco,
(in the National Gallery here in Washington)
depicting chaos and terror on the faces of all present.
?!? Is Jesus having a horribly out of character moment?
There must be more than meets the eye—perhaps, in the vendors’ hearts.
If the activity is not that outrageous,
perhaps Jesus reacts to what He reads in those vendors’ hearts.
They have made the Father’s house into a marketplace
by virtue of what is in their hearts or what is not in their hearts.
The Temple (this temple!)
is the place of hearts turned to the Father, to God.
Theirs are not, and it pains Jesus when His Father is not loved and respected.
We witness the vulnerability of Jesus’ heart.
Think of what you experience when you witness a loved one hurt.
Jesus is not having a hissy fit or lashing out.
Jesus is showing the zeal of love for his Father’s house, for his Father.
Now, when asked for a sign to justify His actions, Jesus gives none.
And, no apology, only prophecy!
“Destroy this Temple, and, in three days, I will raise it up.”
?!? The Temple becomes a challenging, revealing metaphor.
Without faith, however,
without a deep inner sense that leads beyond what meets the eye,
His listeners think Him crazy.
Rebuild in three days a temple still under construction for forty-six years?
Nice try: not happening.
Faith takes the listeners who want to hear to a revelation about His body: Jesus is to die and rise in the very body that will be crucified.
Divine love always has the last word.
The new Temple, i.e. the new place of encounter between God and man, where hearts turn to the Father, is the God-man—including his body.
And the love that animates Jesus’ heart as He gives His life,
and by which He rises, is the love that makes of us temples of God.
Saint Paul tells us (I Corinthians 3:17),
“God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple”.
The zeal we see manifested here is thus also the zeal Jesus has for each of us.
Do we believe it?
Do you truly believe that Jesus will go “wild” for you
if the sacredness of the child of God in you is not respected?
“God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple”.
The choice is ours, today, each day.
Do we choose to fix our eyes and hearts on Jesus
and welcome the zeal of divine love from Him, and let it burn our hearts?
Do we choose to live as Temples of God?
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