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
“Jesus…did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.” (Jn 2:25)
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?
This reflection was originally published in Ashes to Resurrection, Dust to New Life: Reflections for Lent 2012, by Colleen Kelly.