Lent 2018: Reflection for the Third Sunday of Lent, March 4 – Let us defeat injustice rather than each other

From the Maryknoll Office for Global Concern’s 2018 Lenten Reflection Guide: Embracing Jesus’ Practice of Nonviolence

Exodus 20:1-17 | 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 | John 2:13-25

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In this week’s Gospel reading we hear about Jesus’ reaction when he enters the temple in Jerusalem and finds the people have turned God’s house into a marketplace. The temple is bustling with the buying and selling of animals used as sacrifices and services by money changers who help people make their purchases.

Known as the cleansing of the temple, Jesus “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.”

The people, naturally, are appalled by Jesus’ action because buying and selling in the temple had become the norm. They ask Jesus “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus replies that he will destroy the temple and raise it up again.

The Gospel of John concludes, “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.”

Let’s look at the third principle in Dr. King’s six principles of nonviolence: Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice not people. Nonviolence recognizes that evildoers are also victims and are not evil people.

“Nonviolence liberates the oppressed and the oppressors,” John Dear wrote in Living Peace: A Spirituality of Contemplation and Action. Jesus took a stand against immoral action in the temple without hate for the people and went on to call for love for everyone. “Jesus offered the ultimate teaching on nonviolence: Instead of killing your enemies, love your enemies,” Dear said.

“Life continuously reveals to us how deep our own violence lies within us. We will never become perfectly nonviolent because we have been thoroughly socialized into a culture of violence. But we can turn away from violence, seek peace, practice heartfelt compassion toward others, and publicly participate in the world’s nonviolent transformation.”

“As we make peace with ourselves and welcome the God of peace who lives within us, we will learn to make peace with those around us and with others throughout the world. The challenge is to do both: to pursue peace within and to pursue peace with the whole human race.”

Click here for the rest of this reflection, questions, a prayer, suggestions for fasting and action, and more.

* Photo credit:  “NonViolence” (1988) sculpture by Fredrik Reuterswärd at the United Nations Visitor Center, by Paul Stein, licensed in the creative commons 2.0 and available at http://bit.ly/2F3SL2S

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