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  • Bill Miller

Scripture Reflection, March 3, 2024, Third Sunday of Lent

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

Our first reading today reminds us that the Israelites were a people of “laws”. They had hundreds of laws to govern how they should live and worship. This reading from Exodus instructs them (and us) regarding what laws God felt were the most important for them to follow. God narrowed it down to these ten.

And there is another point to ponder in the reading: it was very common for people of that era to believe that the wickedness of parents would be punished, not just in that generation, but for several generations to come. But, on the other hand, the Lord makes it clear that goodness and mercy would be bestowed for a thousand generations (basically, for all time) for those who loved God and followed the commandments. God’s love and mercy know NO bounds!

In the Gospel of John, we read the story of the “cleansing of the temple”. While some variation of this story is found in all four gospels, John chooses to put the story near the beginning of his gospel so as to highlight the fact that Jesus’ action was a foreshadowing of the seriousness of his message, that is: why he has come into the world.

Let’s focus, for a moment, on his anger. Some of us have been taught that anger is a bad thing. However, there is an important distinction between what I will call ‘righteous anger” and “unrighteous anger”. Righteous anger is an emotion that focuses on some injustice, or someone’s bad behavior, that is, behavior that goes against God’s command to love and respect one’s neighbor. On the other hand, unrighteous anger is anger that is often fueled by selfishness or narcissism. It is anger that is self-serving, without regard for anyone else.

Jesus is angry at those who have defiled the temple by bringing their “business” inside the walls of the temple, instead of keeping it out side, where it belongs. The temple is to be reserved for worshiping God! An example of unrighteous anger would be, one of those times when I get impatient/angry with my wife for disagreeing with me, without even listening to her side of the story.

Emotions, complicated though they can be, are actually great teachers for us. We can benefit greatly from analyzing them, asking such questions as: “Where is this emotion coming from? What does it tell me about myself? What am I being called to do?”

And one more thought: Anger, whether it is righteous or unrighteous, calls for action. What is my righteous anger calling me to do in order to alleviate the injustice of the situation? What action does my unrighteous anger require in order to repair the relationship I have damaged with another person? (This often starts with an apology!)

Who knew that understanding anger (or any emotion) could be so complicated? But so VERY important!

So much to think about…and pray about….

by: Bill Miller

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