Friday, March 4, 2011

Your action expresses your priorities

An Observation: “People compose the schedules they do out of the priorities they have; and someone who says otherwise is deceiving himself about what he really values. The same thing applies to money that applies to time. I make a practice of watching what people do, never what they say. Whatever is important, to anyone sane, he will make a place for it; people live out their values.”

Gospel text (Mk 11:11-25): After He had been acclaimed by the crowds, Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple . And after He had looked all around, as it was already late, He went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

The next day, when they were leaving Bethany , He felt hungry. In the distance He noticed a fig tree covered with leaves, so He went to see if He could find anything on it. When He reached it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. Then Jesus said to the fig tree, «May no one ever eat your fruit!». And his disciples heard these words.

When they reached Jerusalem , Jesus went to the Temple and began to drive away all the people He saw buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the stools of those who sold pigeons. And he would not let anyone carry anything through the Temple area. Jesus then taught the people, «Does not God say in the Scriptures: ‘My house will be called a House of Prayer for all the nations’? But you have turned it into a den of thieves».The chief priests and the teachers of the Law heard of this, and they tried to find a way to destroy him. They were afraid of him because all the people were captivated in his teaching. When evening came, Jesus left the city.

Early next morning, as they walked along the road, the disciples saw the fig tree withered to its roots. Peter then said to him, «Master, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered». And Jesus replied, «Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, if you say to this mountain: ‘Get up and throw yourself into the sea’, and have no doubt in your heart but believe that what you say will happen, it will be done for you. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it shall be done for you. And when you stand to pray, forgive whatever you may hold against anyone, so that your heavenly Father may also forgive your sins».

In today’s Gospel, Jesus walks into the Temple to find it buzzing with the business of greedy gamblers and vendors. He is frustrated beyond belief and starts to turn over the merchants’ tables and rush everyone out. What could have possibly sparked such an intense reaction out of our gentle Lord?

Let's picture this: think about the first person in your life who is the nearest and dearest to your heart. Maybe it’s a parent, a spouse, or a best friend, but when you have the opportunity to spend time with him/her, you cherish every moment of it. This treasured person brings your heart such comfort and joy that you always make time for a visit together. So let’s say one day you walk into this person’s house, and it’s full of selfish and greedy strangers up to no good. They’re being loud and disrespectful, walking in and out as they please, not even caring that they’re destroying this special space that you and your loved one share. How does your heart feel at that moment?

So much of Jesus’ ministry stressed the importance of turning to God for everything, over and over. God can be and is our closest friend and provider—why not go to him for all our needs? Jesus certainly does so daily, taking time to pray and speak with his Father. Imagine the frustration and hurt Jesus felt as he entered the Temple that day, walking into his Father’s house to see it full of material indulgences that too easily veer us away from simply being in the presence of God.

Do we let the distractions of our lives swallow up the sacred time we could be spending with God? Our prayer time can be so easily replaced by the attention we pour into our phones, emails, gossip, tv shows, Facebook, shopping… Is it worth it to miss out on the message God so patiently waits to place on our hearts in prayer? As a child of God, Jesus recognized the importance and true beauty of communication with his heavenly Father. We too are called to this intimate relationship with God! When Jesus was denied this sacred prayer space in the Temple that day, his anger boiled over. Would ours? Does our time in prayer with God mean enough to us that we would feel the lack of it so deeply?

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