Homily – 3rd Sunday of Lent

How many of us remember the date of our first Holy Communion? Show of hands? If you remember the date of your first Holy Communion gave you, mine was March 8th.

March 8th, 1987. I was younger then, and if you believe that I have a bridge down the street, I want you to look at be that as it may. Was that the first encounter that we had with the Lord, the date of our first Communion? Do we remember clearly saying, Golly, I want to be here the rest of my life, I want to dedicate my life to Jesus.

I have encountered the Lord. Maybe it was confirmation when we had that encounter with Jesus that really changed us. Can we think back to that moment when we decided we really wanted to be disciples? Because as we get older, sometimes we forget that experience. So have we had another kind of experience, that experience where maybe the church disappointed us?

Maybe we were a little angry at Father. Not that you would ever be mad at the pastor. I mean, after all, pastors can do no wrong right? That moment that said, I think this is not working any more for me. Do we have one of those moments? Do we have one of those moments that we remember and celebrate and one of those moments that we say, yeah, not so much, because that really is what we have to do this Sunday, because in order to consider Jesus the challenger, we have to go back 20 years in his experience, we have to go back to that moment when Jesus was in the temple, when Jesus was talking

with the priests and the Levites and the scribes, when he was asking them questions and they were asking him questions where he said, I am about my father’s business. Why are you looking for me here? This is my father’s house that young Jesus had an experience of encountering the living God in the temple. Now, in today’s gospel, the older Jesus has the exact opposite experience.

It is an experience that makes him angry because he sees what is going on in that place where he encountered the living God. He sees that the temple has become a marketplace and he reacts in anger. The Lord has had that first moment, that encounter, that encounter with God that is at the heart of every encounter. Because every encounter really is a matter of the heart.

It is a matter of falling in love, falling in love with Christ Jesus, who was sent by the Father because the father is so loved the world that he sent us the son. It is that encounter that we have in our homes, our domestic church, where we encounter the love of family and friends. And it should be like the young Jesus.

The encounter that we have here in church where we encounter Christ, Jesus, our family and friends and our community in faith, our church should be that place where we come to fall in love. It is, for us, literally a chosen land, a temple of beauty, a temple where the glory of God fills our lives. It’s a wonderful place to be.

And it’s present in the world today. When we make our church the place of encounter. Now, it’s very interesting. When Jesus encounters the disciples, they say to him, Lord, where do you live? And he says, Come and see. And from that moment on, they move from encounter to being intent channel disciples. They have that encounter that says to them, I want more.

Have we had an encounter that has led us to be intentional disciples so that we are here today in our church, in that place where we encounter God? Not because, as we heard in the first reading, there is a commandment that says Keep holy. The Sabbath. But because we choose to be here, we intentionally want to be together to celebrate it, to remember, and to celebrate the Lord Jesus, our discipleship and our community of faith isn’t it amazing that encounter leads to intentional discipleship Now in today’s Gospel, there is a little bit of confusion.

Jesus says, You have taken over my father’s house and have made it Wal-Mart. Well, he doesn’t exactly say Wal-Mart, but still you get the idea. You were supposed to laugh, but we’ll move on from that. That’s the voice of the young Jesus. That’s the voice of encounter, of the young, intentional disciple who remembers the glory of the temple and is disappointed as the adult.

His adult voice is what of anger? The young voice is one of How could you do this today? What is our voice? The people in the temple are truly not the ones who disappoint Jesus. It’s really not the doves sellers or the money changers or those herding the livestock. It’s leadership that is disappointed him. It’s the priests. It’s the Levites, it’s the scribes, and they are the ones who in turn challenge the challenging Jesus.

They say to him, How dare you do this? By what authority do you do this? And Jesus simply refuses to answer them. Rather, he offers hope. He offers a promise. It’s the promise of everlasting life. He says, Destroy this temple. And in three days I will raise it up again. He’s talking about the great gift of the resurrection.

He’s talking about the great gift of the temple that is our church, us together, forming a community of heart and mind, of intentional disciples. And when we do that, we are given the mission and Ministry of Jesus. He knows that the glory of God is not to be lived in the building. It’s to be lived in the world.

And so he knows that his disciples will continue the mission because God has become like one of us. God is going to know what it means to suffer, to die, and to rise again. And this is why we love, because we have given such a great example of love. And the love of that will say, Father, forgive them.

Notice this scribes, the priests, the Pharisees, not so forgiving in today’s gospel, but Jesus will be the one who forgives. Yes, the disciples there at the temple that day had yet another encounter with the Lord. The priests, the stripes and the Pharisees miss the encounter. They missed the opportunity. And this is where we look at our own lives.

Today, we have an opportunity to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist through the body and blood of Christ, to renew our intention to be disciples, to say yes to the Messiah, to say yes to the Mission and Ministry of Jesus. And when we do, we are sent into the world because we have become Christ Jesus. He has come to heal us.

He has come to be the glory of God for us. And here is our chance to meet the living God. Jesus challenges us today to be His own people, to be a people that will continue his mission, his miracles and everything he came to do. And Jesus promises, us. I am with you today, tomorrow and all days, even until the end of the world.

And so what is our life today going to be? Think back to that first encounter, that moment when we said yes to the love of Jesus. Think back to another moment when perhaps that love was challenged, when we were hurt or angered or disappointed. I think now to the opportunity to renew the intention of being a disciple. Think now of the Eucharist and the mission it sends us out into the world to accomplish.

Think of the ministry that is given to each and every one of us, a ministry in Christ Jesus, the Healer, the forgive her, the love, the Jesus who is the challenger, and Jesus who calls us today and the Jesus who is the same yesterday, today, and forever