After spending Sunday night in Bethany, Jesus returned to Jerusalem the next morning. Hungering as he went, he cursed a barren fig tree that stood along his path, and upon arriving at the temple, he found the courts full of corrupt money changers. In just anger, Jesus began overturning their tables saying, “My Temple will be a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of thieves." His frustration here is palpable. Jesus wants abundant life for every living thing, and that means bearing the fruit of his grace. He wants genuine appreciation for his Father’s goodness, not self-seeking dealings and pompous claims to holy spaces. He wants people to understand and be transformed by his love, but his timeline of walking among them is growing short.
Jesus doesn’t demand that we love him perfectly. He knows intimately of our human limits, but also of our great human capacities. He doesn’t require perfection, but he does ask for authenticity in pursuit of that perfect love. The outward display of religion is not enough and, in fact, is made limited by our current reality. During this time of isolation and unknown, we cannot rely largely on the externals, however beautiful and meaningful they are. Traditional participation in the Sacraments is limited, or altogether inaccessible, and so we have a choice to make. We can close ourselves off from each other and from Christ, or we can keep open the doors of our hearts. We can make this a time to bear deeper fruit and fall to our knees at the temple of Calvary, or we can decide these times are too complicated to be bothered with new mercies. We can be transformed by his love, or else grow hardened before the cross.
Jesus, in the midst of this troubling pandemic I see healthcare workers, custodians, elder care providers, grocery store operators, and so many more rushing into the fray for love of your people. I see families coming together, friends reconciling, innovation blossoming, creativity thriving, and souls being shaken awake in vulnerability. The flowers are budding, the leaves are returning to the trees, and spring is fast approaching. You are good. Help me to mean it when I say I love you, feeling the depth and breadth of those words. Be with me today as I seek you in each person and circumstance. Let my authenticity of heart be a fortifying gift to you in this week of trial. Let me aim for perfection as an outpouring of love, but find a freeing contentment in my best effort and your mercy. Let me not grow hardened to you, and find simple ways to bear your goodness to others.