As Holy Week approaches in two weeks, reflect with me on the voice of conscience and come back to the Lord through the sacrament of reconciliation. I will join brother priests on March 23 at St. Louis Bertrand Church for a Holy Hour and confession. My article below, which appeared in “Give Us This Day” on March 4, 2018, the third Sunday of Lent, reminds us of the need to cleanse our souls and listen to the echo of God’s voice in our hearts:
Two temples were cleansed when Jesus so vividly expressed righteous indignation at the state of affairs on the Temple Mount. Of course the courtyard leading to the Holy of Holies —the sacred space that is still honored as the “Temple of the Mount” by Jews, Muslims and Christians — was cleansed of “marketers” who were distracting from the essential atmosphere of holiness.
The soul yearns for that serenity of place that Jesus restored. The peaceful silence of a church visit stirs the mind and lifts the heart to God.
But Scripture scholars remind us that Jesus’ dramatic actions cleansed a second “temple.” This involved the hearts of ancient-day “scalpers” — the ones charging extra and taking advantage of the poor who approached the Temple to make their offering.
I have never liked the loud scalpers standing outside sports arenas, but this case is worse. The least able to pay were over a barrel. With rather strong action, Jesus cleansed the hearts of those greedy merchants so that the echo of God’s voice (their consciences) might prevail.
That echo of God’s voice in our hearts fits into today’s first reading from Exodus, describing the handing down of the Ten Commandments to Moses. The stone tablets held laws already written on the hearts of all. Good proof might be the Egyptian women who rescued baby Moses from the reeds earlier in the book of Exodus (2:1-10). Long before the Ten Commandments were proclaimed, these women heard the echo of God’s voice in their hearts, and it moved them to save an innocent child.
As Lenten pilgrims yearning for conversion, we too long to hear this echo. A quiet visit to a holy place might be just what we need to cleanse the “temple” of our hearts.
Text of reflection reprinted with permission, “Give Us This Day: Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic,” March 2018 (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press).