Passionate and Angry Jesus?

– 33rd Week in Ordinary Time –

“the people as a whole hung on his words.” [Luke 19:48]

In Today’s gospel text we see a side of Jesus which is not often revealed in the gospel. A Jesus who is angry, who drives out of the temple those who were using the temple as a place to sell things. In the account in John’s gospel, Jesus “made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:15 – 16).  Here Jesus shows us that at times there is good reason to be angry and show passion. The kind of passion and anger that is condemned in scripture is sinful passion and unrighteous anger. But at times anger and passion are a sign of holiness. Anger at injustice, anger at abuse, anger at evil is a good thing. Passion for God, passion for justice, passion for peace is a good thing! Our challenge is to ensure that our anger and passion are rightly directed.   

The chief priests and the scribes are very uncomfortable with Jesus’ behaviour and want to ‘do away with him,’ but Jesus was too popular – the people hung on his words. Here lies another challenge for us some 2000 years later. When Jesus taught in the temple, people hung on his words. When we hear the gospel in the Mass, when we read scripture, do we hang on every word?! Do we know Jesus’ word?! St Jerome reminded us that ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ. Moreover, though most Catholics understand the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, many are not aware of Christ’s real presence in the word of God. St Jerome reminds us that “the Gospel is the Body of Christ.” And that “Christ’s body and blood are really the word of scripture, God’s teaching.” (See section 56 of Verbum Domini). Our challenge here is to ask ourselves, do we hang off Jesus’ words as those in the temple once did?

Today’s gospel reminds us that passion and anger can be holy when rightly directed, and that like those listening to Jesus in the temple, we should be attentive to scripture, especially in the liturgy, and hang on every word of the Gospel.     

By Dcn Peter Pellicaan

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