Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!
Malls have become social hubs, busy beehives of shopping and eating for millions of us. That was the case, too, when Jews flowed into Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Jesus finds the animal sellers and money-changers doing a brisk business, selling sacrificial animals and changing currency for travelers. It was a real mall atmosphere.
But the noise was not the real problem. The Temple was a magnificent structure built on the highest mound overlooking the Holy City. God’s presence was enshrined here. It was a place of such extreme holiness that even today, Jews turn toward this site in prayer. So we can see why Jesus, the Son of God, would explode with rage at these men who were just doing “business as usual.” Not only a lack of reverence for the dwelling place of his Father, Jesus was angry and taking a stand against what we might call “the mall mentality.”
Jesus saw that deepest religious tradition being cheapened and trivialized by greedy, exploitative practices. Is this close to the irreverence and greed of our own culture? When the sacred reality of our God is pushed out of the center of our lives, what becomes our center? The “mall mindset” Jesus condemns today also describes our obsession with competition, money, eating, shopping and accumulating “things.”
The Commandments are like markers placed in a river to tell us where to steer to avoid death by drowning. But, let us keep asking ourselves, do we live a faithful life with God’s holy commands as the backbone of our behavior?
“Being Church means being God’s people…This means that we are to be God’s leaven in the midst of humanity. It means proclaiming and bringing God’s salvation into our world, which often goes astray and needs to be encouraged, given hope and strengthened on the way” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel).
Enjoy the St. Patrick’s Parade today here in Belmar! Hope to see many of you out and about…I will be parading down Main Street with our students from the grammar and high school….Have a good week, continue on this Lenten journey to conversion with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love!
Joyfully in the Lord,
Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish