March 3rd – III Sunday of Lent

My Dear Friends,

“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19) 

As a priest, so many times I’ve had to walk with a parishioner who is recovering from alcohol or drug addiction. I am always edified when I see the progress they make when they surrender themselves to the Lord during their recovery. Yet even when they surrender, it is not always easy. Rehab can often get violent. When we are trying to recover from an addiction or a vice, things get messy. So it stands to reason that when we turn away from the vice of sin, the devil will do everything in his power to fight us and cause havoc. But that’s when we must let Jesus in and cleanse the temple of our hearts just as cleansed the temple in today’s gospel. A few years ago, one of my classmates from seminary, now the Vicar General of the Diocese of St. Augustine, wrote this: “Lord, enter into the temple of my heart and start tossing tables! Banish from my heart whatever does not belong to you!” But Jesus will not force his way into hearts, we have to let him. Sin builds a wall of stone around our hearts that is harder and more stubborn than the stones that made up the old temple. This wall makes us numb to sin. We keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again because we no longer feel remorse, guilt, shame, and are no longer hurt by our sins. Sin eventually will weigh us down to the point that we forget that the mercy of Jesus even exists. 

The Opening Prayer or Collect of the Mass today perfectly sums up what the Church is trying to communicate to us this Sunday when it says: “O God…look graciously on this confession of our lowliness, that we, who are bowed down by our conscience, may always be lifted up by your mercy.” Sin is like a boulder that we carry on our shoulders. Sin dehumanizes us, makes us weak, and does not let us see the glorious face of our Lord. Is it any wonder that we need to implore in our prayers to be “lifted up” by God’s mercy. We need him to enter into our hearts to cast out all evil as he cast out the merchants in the temple. We need him to take that weight off our shoulders so we can hold our heads high and see his glory. That is why we must avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Confession. The confessional is where things may get messy, but we come out clean as a whistle. Jesus does the dirty work. He will cast out all that is evil. He will toss aside what doesn’t belong in our hearts. Lent is the perfect time to cleanse our souls in confession. Make a good Examination of Conscience. Go confess your sins. Feel the power of His mercy. Jesus wants to make something new. He wants to tear down your old self and raise a new man or woman. The only catch is we have to let him in! So as we continue our Lenten journey, ask yourself this question: “Am I going to let Jesus make something new by letting him into my heart?” 

I leave you with a simple prayer of surrender. The prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola: 

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, 
My memory, my understanding 
And my entire will, 
All I have and call my own. 

You have given all to me. 
To you, Lord, I return it. 

Everything is yours; do with it what you will. 
Give me only your love and your grace. 
That is enough for me. 


God bless you all,

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