& the phrase for this 3rd Sunday of Lent, & with promising weather & hopeful signs in the pandemic.. the phrase sadly is “you shall not..” it is a relational lockdown, as God through Moses introduces the 10 commandments..& just in case you want to forget them or amend them, they are engraved not in your heart but on tablets of stone “you shall not..” a God losing control as his people, then & now, test the water & the boundaries.. Fr Richard Rohr Franciscan priest asks “what is the opposite to love?” & yes right answer is “hate” however the real answer is “control” no wonder God had to send his Son to address crisis meltdown in lockdown.. ..a Son he foolishly lovingly, risked losing, out of control, to teach us how to love & self-sacrifice, empower the weakest & those of us addicted to /controlled by our faults & failures to begin a period a Lent of recovery & redemption..
“..we preach a crucified Christ ..” a human failure.. ; Lord have mercy “..to the Jews an obstacle they cannot get over” ..they rejected him.. ; Christ have mercy “..to the pagans madness” he was too good too ordinary to believe in.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“a man like us in all things but sin” sin a dis-grace, behaviour or words in contravention of the goodness which grows inside us we call grace; divine grace within a lively alert conscience.. essence of John’s gospel “the Word was made flesh & dwells among us” & within us.. to see each of you here & now is to see God; each of us made in the image & likeness of God.. so where does the temper tantrum of Jesus come from? his dis-graceful comment to his mother at wedding feast just before our gospel; she notices wine had run out, so she approaches her son gently sensitively.. “they have no wine” & his response? “woman why turn to me?” not “mother” but “woman” just like any other woman.. don’t expect favours from me.. how do you think she felt?.. how would you feel?..& very next incident he crashes into temple HQ temple [ Abbey Church not Our Lady & St Benedict ] makes a whip, drives them out threateningly, he knocked tables over & verbally dressed them down big style.. what sort of reputation is he building for himself?.. dismissively rude to his mother; abusive towards those at religious work in Temple, violent towards property & verbal abuse..2yellow cards for rudeness & verbal abuse, & a straight red for violent conduct..& Jews, always ready to provoke & intimidate, ask him to explain himself.. a human Jesus guilty on all charges..& then.. then.. John brings in divine Jesus..& notice how story changes dramatically; a different man & the divine voice now dialogues theologically & at depth “destroy this sanctuary, & in 3days I will raise it up”.. “it has taken 46yrs to build this sanctuary; are you going to raise it up in 3days?”& the dialogue ends as if answer then, & now to us, is “wait & see”.. as at wedding feast, as Mary, having been humiliated by her son, says to servants “do whatever he tells you” in other words “wait & see” his bark is worse than his bite; he’ll soften calm, & the miracle will come, you’ll see “wait & see” & when Jesus rose from dead his disciples remembered that he had said this & [then] they believed.”.. wait see & believe.. & what was cause of his anger at wedding feast & at Temple? same transgressions/sin/ dis-grace.. his mother crossed a boundary.. at feast she’d be with golden oldies, whereas young Jesus with his pals.. socially unacceptable for her to step into domain of youth.. temple traders & money changers had crossed a religious border vital in temple worship.. exchange & mart.. if you brought in cattle sheep pigeons or £10 note as your temple offering it had probably been touched by pagans.. religious covidcarriers.. so these dealers exchanged your unclean offering for clean one, touched raised only by clean Jews.. call it insider dealing.. your £10 note exchanged by minister of welcome for mint one, straight out of Barclays Bank in Helmsley.. so all they were doing was religiously kosher but crucially they were doing it in wrong place.. ..religious commercialism is necessary in any parish, & should go on in Parish Hall, on campus but apart from holy ground in here.. our porch & sanitising area equivalent to the Court of Gentiles.. for 2nd class believers to come to pray quietly but at a distance [ other side of screen ] from us.. us the elite in the body of Church nave..navus navy crew-space.. where you each pull on oars & there are no passengers.. Viking longships crossing to Shetland crewed, not by terrorists but by families, with women taking it in turns to row.. Viking raiders or prospective migrants?.. how tragically we have been misled..& our value added here now, from temple worship of 2500yrs ago, is we have Catholic & non Catholic together.. praying on together.. the gift of all of us [ not us & them ] “us” who are not Roman Catholic, yet come week in week out with your Catholic spouse & give our meal that extra ingredient/flavour, much deeper than words.. it is presence.. real presence.. & no boundaries.. spiritually in full communion with us.. could I share with you a short poem called “from the place where we are right”?
from the place where we are right flowers will never grow in the spring the place where we are right is hard & trampled like a yard
but doubts & loves dig up the world like a mole, a plough. And a whisper will be heard in the place where the ruined house once stood. [Yehuda Amichai ; 1924-2000]
a Jesus sadly who was right.. where a whisper heard in the place where the ruined house, the ruined temple at Byland or Rievaulx, once stood..& pray who whispered ?..Mary did.. “do whatever he tells you”. ..the inclusiveness of this our faith community.. I listened to talk last Saturday by monk from United States entitled “ a time of crisis becomes a time of formation” one phrase from him struck home for me, & which seems appropriate for our monastic community & for us, our faith family here in the parish.. “the more the community has exiles, the less it attracts vocations & the presence of the young.. because the community is not totally “being there”.. ..a cry from us in our temple, to those choosing in lockdown to go to other temples.. ..be it the Abbey Church or their own on-line home temple.. ..& a whisper heard in the place, in this holy place..a place of recovery & redemption.. listen to whisper, no longer a cold ”thou shall not..” but now? a warm “welcome home”..