3rd Sunday of Lent              

            A girl saw a sign in church meeting hall and was crying. It read, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” An elder asked why she was crying. The girl said, “I’m afraid of the zeal.” The old man answered, “Don’t worry little girl, there’s no zeal in this place.”

            We need to ask: “Is there zeal in this community?” Is there zeal for God and for the things of God in this parish? Do parishioners of OLMMP have zeal for participating in Christ’s mission? Ayaw kong ibato ang tanong na ito sa ‘pangkalahatan’ lang na wala namang tatamaan kasi hindi naman ninyo ituturing ang tanong na ito sa patungkol sa inyo, personally. So, I would rather ask you individually: John, Jane, Mike, Mitch, Manny, Lannie, Ding, Jing… everyone listening to me right now, I am asking you: Do you have zeal for God? Do you have zeal for the kingdom of God? Zeal for working for God? Zeal for the mission entrusted to you? I will come back to this question in a while…

            “Zeal for your house will consume me.” This verse describes Jesus’ reaction when he sees the Temple being violated or desecrated by those who have turned the sacred place into a marketplace. Jesus is zealous or passionate for the things of his Father. In his boyhood he said something similar, also in the Temple: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” This passage is taken from Luke 2:49. And in John 4:34, Jesus said that food is to do the will of Him who sent him. Jesus’ zeal is to accomplish his Father’s work.

            I looked in the dictionary for the synonyms of zeal. Here are some of them: passion, committedness, energy, enthusiasm, dynamism, vigor, ardor, fervor, fire, LOVE. And its antonyms are: apathy and indifference. Put those words in the context of working for God – proclaiming the Good News of God’s Love – and we get a better picture of what this verse means: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Are Christ’s followers, are we not supposed to have the same zeal, passion, or committedness?

            Going back to my question – but putting it in another way: What are you passionate about? Some people are more committed to a basketball team or to their school team than to Jesus. They do not hesitate to wear team jerseys and insignia while hesitating to wear a cross. Some people are more devout and loyal to a rock band or to a pop singer than to Christ. They spend more on a concert ticket than they do on Church donations. Some people are more dedicated in promoting themselves than in sharing in the life and mission of Christ. They use their time, talents, and resources for themselves or for their own benefit only.

            I absolutely agree with someone who said: “The problem is not that we are too passionate about bad things, but that we are not passionate enough about good things.” Let me paraphrase that: The problem is not that we are too passionate about the things of the world, too passionate about our personal interests and ambitions, too passionate about accomplishment, achievement, and success, too passionate about social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. The problem is that we are not passionate enough about the kingdom of God and about the things of God, about becoming Christ’s mission partners, about generously sharing our time, talents, and resources to help others and our community.

            Lent is offering us the grace to have greater zeal for God, more passion for Christ, deeper commitment to our mission. Let us, therefore, open ourselves, through constant conversion, to receive more zeal to encounter the Lord Jesus more personally and intimately… more zeal to follow him more closely more freely, and more faithfully… more zeal to share more personally and more actively in his life and mission… more zeal to bring the Good News and be good news to others, especially to the needy… more zeal to use God’s gifts – time, talents, and resources – in the service of our community… more zeal in prayer and liturgical celebrations, especially during the celebration of the Mass. For God’s sake, bring out more zeal, more passion, more commitment for the things of God! May we be able to say: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

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