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Western Wall - Jerusalem

Western Wall – Jerusalem

Gospel – John 2:13-25

Since the Passover of the Jews was near,
Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,
as well as the money changers seated there.
He made a whip out of cords
and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen,
and spilled the coins of the money changers
and overturned their tables,
and to those who sold doves he said,
“Take these out of here,
and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
His disciples recalled the words of Scripture,
Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him,
“What sign can you show us for doing this?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
The Jews said,
“This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,
and you will raise it up in three days?”
But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
Therefore, when he was raised from the dead,
his disciples remembered that he had said this,
and they came to believe the Scripture
and the word Jesus had spoken.

While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
many began to believe in his name
when they saw the signs he was doing.
But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all,
and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.
He himself understood it well.

Reflection by Br. Mark McKeon, FSC

In October 2014 I departed Australia to begin what was to be three wonderful years of ministry at Bethlehem University. I had been asked by Br Peter Bray to take on the role of Vice President for Human Resources and Administrative Affairs.  Soon after I arrived it became very clear to me that I was in a very different culture. The University guards asked for a meeting to discuss the benefits due to them.  I was thrown a curveball when one of the guards asked me if he could receive benefits for his second wife. Various responses came to mind but I said I would get back to him.

Unlike the many pilgrim groups that came through Bethlehem University, being able to live in the Holy Land for an extended period of time afforded me the opportunity to undertake a slow reflective pilgrimage. When I read in today’s gospel that Jesus “went up to Jerusalem” it reminded me of the times I walked “up to Jerusalem” from Bethlehem. Jesus no doubt caused a scene driving people out of the temple. In my own prayer, I reflect often on Jesus’ words, “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”  Currently, I am working at the National Diocesan Seminary in New Zealand where I am responsible primarily for the formation of the first-year seminarians. One of the practices I share with the seminarians is the spiritual practice of guard of the heart. Linked to this is the need for self-awareness. Today we are bombarded with so much visual stimuli it is crucial we have an inbuilt sensor that ensures we don’t make our hearts a cluttered marketplace that distracts our attention from the ever-present Trinity who makes a home in us.

Abba Philemon a 7th-century desert Father wrote, “Keep a careful watch on yourself. Do not allow yourself to be swept away by external obsessions. The tumultuous movements of the soul, in particular, can be rendered quiet by stillness. But if you keep encouraging and stimulating them, they will start to terrorize you and can disorder your whole life.” One of the ways we can guard our hearts and maintain a careful watch on ourselves is to spend time seeking sustenance in the Word of God.  Regularly meditating on Scripture is one way of de-cluttering our hearts creating more space for the Spirit to move freely.

In October last year, Pope Francis wrote the Apostolic Letter Scripturae Sacrae Affectus which commemorated the sixteen hundredth anniversary of the death of Saint Jerome. The distinctive feature of Saint Jerome’s spirituality was undoubtedly his passionate love for the word of God. Jerome unceasingly gave this advice to his contemporaries: “Read the divine Scriptures constantly; never let the sacred volume fall from your hand.”

Reflection Questions

  • What do you do to “guard your heart” from becoming a market place?
  • What consumes your attention at the moment?
  • What do you do or need to do to keep the Sabbath day Holy?