Fr Adrian's Homily
Year B 2021
Fr Adrian Farrelly
Last week I shared my wonderings about the use of our Lord’s name and his mission as profanities. People use the words, Jesus, Christ, Jesus Christ to express pain, anger, frustration and abuse.
I wondered if in cultures grounded in other religions and philosophies, their citizens invoked Moses, Buddha, Confucius or Mohammed in like manner. I concluded (without doing in depth scholarly research) that in all likelihood they did not. The reason for this non-use of the name of their revered figures as profanity and for the propensity for misuse of the name and title by those raised in a culture grounded in Christian faith and teaching, was the deliberate focussing on himself by Jesus e.g. who do people say I am; I am the way, the truth and the life. None of the other religious figures listed encouraged this among their followers. Their approach was quite the opposite. Focus on the teaching delivered not on the messenger or teacher.
Jesus, the crucified Messiah (Christ in Greek) is unique in human history in what his followers proclaim about him. His death one Friday afternoon outside Jerusalem was undone by his rising from the dead. This was not the resuscitation of a corpse, the awakening of a zombie, this was the friend and leader they worked with in announcing the nearness of God – the kingdom or accepting God as the centre of the universe cosmic and personal.
One of the foundation shaking claims made by Jesus concerned the Jewish temple and the worship offered to God. Such temple worship had a use by date. This is what Jesus proclaimed dramatically when he disrupted all the activities needed for worship. The animals and the coin changers did not make the temple a market place to use Jesus’ words. Sacrificing birds and animals and donating coins free of images of Roman emperors were essential to revering God. Jesus’ action in the temple was to draw attention to himself as the “place” in which we give worship to God.
The suffering and shameful death stopped people like St Paul accepting the claims made by the apostles and the other disciples that the Nazarene was the God-sent messiah. This was not the accepted narrative. Jesus had to convince the two disciples he accompanied on the road to Emmaus that suffering was always part of the messiah role but edited out in popular teaching. Only the personal revelation by Jesus convinced Paul to reject his earlier objections and see the highly unlikely was in fact the truth.
For the Greeks a crucified messenger from God was not reasonable. They rejected the proposal because of the clash with their own preconceived ideas of what would constitute revelation from God about everything. When you make your opinion god, accepting a challenge to think otherwise is usually not done.
We worship on the day of the resurrection in assemblies with others who are along with us members of the body that is Christ in the world, or alone in the privacy of our room where the Father sees all that is done in private. As the ten commandments constantly challenge us we reject false gods and cling to the one who frees us from slavery. Look at each of the commandments and see that each of them is the rejection of one false god after another.
Jesus “cleansing” of the temple is not a proof text for displays of righteous anger (therefore not sinful). What Jesus did was no cleansing but the demolition of the temple and the establishment of worship in spirit and truth. This worship is not tied to any place but to the person of Jesus. So we are free to worship wherever we are.
International Women’s Day
On Monday at the 7 am mass, we shall unite in prayer with women in all nations of the planet, our common home. Life for many is rich in so many ways where their gifts and abilities are treasured and appreciated. Would that such was true for women everywhere. Our relationships and respect for others are damaged by the unreality that is sin. When the Trinity, the communion of the divine persons, is moved from the centre-point of life, when our immersion in that life is denied, we see each other as adversaries not family, or commodities to be traded not individuals with God-given dignity and worth. Mary, the woman who gave the world God’s Word in human flesh, continues to pray for us and help us treasure in our hearts all the great things God is doing for us.