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REFLECTION – THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT, 2024
Psychologists tell us that aggression is part of our human nature and can play an important role in the way we deal with other people in the challenges they often present to us. Some nations have aggressive foreign policies, business people make aggressive deals. We see the inevitable effects and destruction when aggression oversteps the boundaries of human interaction, as is evidenced in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in the battlefield of the Israeli / Palestinian / Gaza conflict and in many parts of the African continent. There is profound pain, suffering, human destruction and death because of aggression with millions having to flee their homeland in search of safety. The aggression we see played out in these and similar conflicts is destructive, annihilating and is deathly in its intent.
When we meet people who are aggressive, we are often frightened because of their irrational behaviour. This may reveal itself in physical, emotional and verbal acts of violence and abuse. It’s unpleasant to encounter such people. They disturb our inner peace. They take life from us.
If there had been statues in the Temple when Jesus erupted in aggression, they would have fallen to pieces, such was the strength of his response to what was happening in the Temple, the House of God. It had been turned into a market place. Jesus is clearly angry with the way the chief priests are allowing the Temple to be used as a market place and in doing this they are undermining his beliefs and values as they are interested only in civil business. They are defiling the sacred space of the Temple. After Jesus clears the temple of its unsavoury activities, he reclaims it for its proper purpose – a place where people gather to pray, to give praise and thanksgiving to God, a place where they encounter the Divine.
We may be surprised at the manner of Jesus’s behaviour but he placed huge value on the House of God, this place where the human and divine interact. His anger was also directed at those who chose not to accept him as the True Messiah, the One sent by God. In profaning the Temple they were, in effect, profaning GOD himself because in Jesus we see the fullness of God. The Temple was the encounter between God and humankind: now God is truly present in the person of Jesus. He is the “New Temple of God.”
When we gather to celebrate the Eucharist in our House of God, the Church, we are to bring with us a spirit of respect, reverence and gratitude for the presence of God. We are to recognise that here, in our Church, we encounter the life of God in and through Jesus Christ. That is why we should always be mindful of the sacredness and holiness of our Church. Our church of St. Agnes is a warm, spiritual and welcoming place. It’s our place of encounter with the living God, our time with the Risen Christ where we are nourished in Word and Sacrament. The Eucharist is a beautiful gift given to us. May we always reverence this House of God by our dignified, prayerful presence.
The Hopes of Pope Francis for the future of the Church
464 Bishops, Priests, Religious and lay people have gathered in Rome for the month of October to take part in the Synod which is the most important happening in the Church since the 2nd Vatican Council. Of that number 81 are women and 54 of those are voting members.
Pope Francis seeks to bring a revived sense of mission to the Church, and many are hoping that new life will emerge as a result. The documents that will emerge at the end of the month are not the final word, the same people who attend the present gathering will meet again in October 2024, and the Pope is expected to respond to the documents in the months after.
One topic that will be addressed is the role of women in the Church and perhaps we might have women deacons in the years ahead. The Synod will address the role of all those of us who are Baptised and encourage us to become more active in the Church and in our Parishes. We all share in the common priesthood of the Baptised. This gathering is a culmination of the work that took place in our parish and the parishes of Ireland in 2022.
Ireland is represented by Alan McGuckian, Bishop of Raphoe, and Brendan Leahy, Bishop of Limerick, his early years were spent as a child in the parish of St. Agnes.
PRAYER FOR THE SYNOD
We Stand before You, Holy Spirit, as we gather together in Your name.
With You alone to guide us, make Yourself at home in our hearts;
Teach us the way we must go and how we are to pursue it.
We are weak and sinful; do not let us promote disorder.
Do not let ignorance lead us down the wrong path nor partiality influence our actions.
Let us find in You our unity so that we may journey together to eternal life
And not stray from the way of truth and what is right.
All this we ask of You, who are at work in every place and time,
In the communion of the Father and the Son, forever and ever. Amen.