Third Sunday of Lent

Through the “cleansing” of the temple, Jesus was really symbolically replacing it.  Without animals for sacrifice, sacrificial worship could not be offered at the temple.  Jesus later in the Gospel of John tells the Samaritan woman at the well because of Him, worship will be offered to God not at special sites like the Jewish and Samaritan temples, but in Spirit and truth (4:23-25).  The real temple of God—place of God’s special presence– is not a building in Jerusalem, but Jesus Himself.  Thus Jesus can say, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”  John explains to us that He is talking about the temple of His body.

Jesus’ action at the temple was thus another sign of who He was and of the momentous change He was making in the relationship between God and His people.  His first disciples did not immediately grasp the full significance of the signs He worked, but their  meaning became clearer after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  Signs such as the “cleansing” of the temple enabled people to believe in Him (Verse 11,23).

God Bless

Msgr. Powell


Second Sunday of Lent

Jesus just told His disciples that He would lead them to the cross.  He knew it would not be easy for them to follow a crucified Messiah, so He wanted to give them a glimpse of what awaited them on the other side of the cross.  The Transfiguration was an anticipation of the glory of Jesus which He would enter through His death and resurrection.  It was also an anticipation of the glory His disciples would experience if they walked the way of the cross with Him.

The dazzling white, the high mountain, the cloud, the voice from the cloud, were all images from the Old Testament that showed the glorious presence of God with His people.  The two central figures from the Old Testament were also there: Moses, as the great lawgiver, and  Elijah, representing all the prophets of old.  Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s plan, the one to whom both the law and the prophets pointed.

The voice of God speaks:  He identifies Jesus as His son and urges us to “listen to Him.”  We too can have our mountaintop experiences of God, times in which we are overwhelmed with awe and joy in God’s presence.  Yet we cannot depend on there brief experiences to last and sustain us.  We must listen to all the words of Jesus and move with Him in the way He leads us.

Praise the Father for making us His beloved sons and daughters.  Ask Him to strengthen us in our struggle with suffering and death.  Look with hope to our future transfiguration when God will raise us from the dead and take us into glory.

God Bless

Msgr. Powell


First Sunday of Lent

Today we begin the season of Lent.  The theme of spiritual training is set forth in the gospel.  The Holy Spirit leads Jesus into the desert.  There in the wasteland He stays for forty days and is put to the test by Satan.

In the time of Jesus it was the common expectation that the Messiah would be God’s agent to overthrow Satan and all his evil spirits.  In order to do this the Messiah would have to undergo a trial of strength and engage in a tremendous battle of cosmic proportions.

By going into the wilderness, the traditional dwelling place of evil spirits, Jesus signals that the final climatic battle between God and Satan has begun.  The presence of the tamed wild beasts and the angels who minister to him suggest that Jesus will emerge the winner—not only in this initial encounter, but also in the more decisive way through His resurrection and, finally, in a definitive way at the end of time.

Our Lord’s struggle with Satan still goes on, but the battleground has shifted from the desert into our own spirits.  Christ’s victory is guaranteed, but it still has to be worked out in our lives.  We need to go through our periodic training of the Lenten disciplines to get ready to do battle with Satan and his evil spirits.

The time—proven Lenten disciplines recommended by the Church are prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  If we are faithful to these disciplines, we will leave Lent changed for the better.  We will be better prepared and stronger for our struggles with Satan, much as our Lord was after His forty days in the desert.

God Bless

Msgr. Powell