Throughout the Lenten season, we’ll be posting reflections for holy days and Sundays. These reflections are gleaned from Lenten reflection booklets which Pax Christi USA has been publishing for over 40 years, and their messages ring as true now as they did when they were first written. Click here to see all reflections as they are posted as well as links to other Lenten resources on our Lent 2021 webpage.

Today’s reflection is from Colleen Kelly, taken from the 2012 Lenten reflection booklet she co-authored with her daughter. Colleen is a co-founder of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, an organization dedicated to turning grief into action for peace. Peaceful Tomorrows was born when a small group of family members of those killed on 9/11 became connected after reading each others’ pleas for nonviolent and reasoned responses to the terrorist attacks. Several of these individuals met one another when they participated in the “Walk for Healing and Peace” from Washington, D.C. to New York City in late 2001 organized by Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness. Colleen has worked as a family nurse practitioner in a large Bronx high school clinic. She received PCUSA’s Teacher of Peace award in 2011.

reflection for THE THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT, MAR. 7, 2021

by Colleen Kelly

Exodus 20:1-17 | 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 | John 2:13-25

“Jesus…did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.” (Jn 2:25)

Cleansing the temple

Jesus’s righteous anger in the temple strikes such a chord. In other Biblical passages, Jesus displayed human emotion: sorrow, disappointment, compassion, love—all the “good” or “polite” emotions. But it’s comforting to conjure up an image of Jesus turning over tables, dumping money boxes on the ground, making a whip! Wow. That type of anger we can relate to. John describes this incident not as a parable, but as an actual accounting of Jesus’s actions. No one is hurt, however. There is no physical violence to anyone’s body. And it’s notable that the infraction that most infuriated Jesus (as far as the Gospel recounts) is not betrayal, not adultery, not bearing false witness or coveting others’ possessions. It was the buying and selling taking place in God’s temple, making the sacred profane.

Who confronts the moneychangers of our time—those who set up shop in our sacred places? Dorothy Day condemned “our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.” The hibakusha (Japanese atomic bomb survivors) travel the world warning of nuclear weapons. The nascent Occupy Wall Street movement highlights the gross inequality in the United States. Survivors of sexual abuse and their families have organized to remove the profane from our churches.

There is a certain moral righteousness to anger directed squarely at the profane. The ability to act on this anger, nonviolently, can be a sacred duty.

What causes the most anger in my life?
How can I delineate righteous anger from misguided anger?

Click here to see more resources for prayer, study and action this Lenten season.

This reflection was originally published in Ashes to Resurrection, Dust to New Life: Reflections for Lent 2012, by Colleen Kelly.

3 thoughts on “Reflection for the third Sunday of Lent, March 7

  1. So far this has been my best Lent ever. Strange but necessary to say, I grieve deeply the departure of my wife of 5+ years from this life. We first met in late 2013, I single and just turned 63, she widowed and barely 72. I had been discerning a vocation to marriage (of a widow no less! fancy that! What would Saint Francis de Sales have to write about it? He did write!) prior to meeting her. Providence steered us every step of the way. We were married 6-June 2015 at Saint Elizabeth’s Roman Catholic Church in Wilmington, DE. We both mirrored each others opinions of each other, seriously. Both her diary and mine (mirror images of each other) said the same thing: “Best thing that ever happened to me”. One major comfort: her departure ended some serious suffering towards the end of her life. Happy Death is what I believe Blessed Mother Mary gave her. Saint Joseph too. So my bereavement is tempered rather strongly with such consoling thoughts. Happy Lent!!!!!!! Saint Francis de Sales said concerning widows: “The true Widow should never blame or censure those who enter into 2nd or even 3rd and 4th marriages, for some times God thus orders events for the advancement of His glory!” That’s my story.

  2. How can we take moments of anger and allow ourselves to understand why we may be angry? Then, how can we use the energy from anger to propel us to some positive activity? We are not the anger itslf, but we can look at it and learn from it. Peace!

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