Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
On this Third Sunday of Lent, we as a parish community celebrate together the First Baptismal Scrutiny of our brothers and sisters going through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). We pray for them, as they prepare to embrace Christ's life in the Church. This reminds us that since
Early Church times, the Christian season of Lent has always enjoyed a strong baptismal character. For many centuries, the character of this season was almost totally marked by the Catechumenate (our RCIA of today): the process of Christian initiation into the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation. This was a time of formation of three or more years which had its culmination in the great Easter Vigil.
The time of Lent was the time of immediate preparation for the reception of these sacraments, a time of intense formation and conversion, not only for those entering the Church, but for the entire Christian community. We Christians need to see the time of Lent as a time to rediscover, revive and renew our own Baptism, to reawaken the baptismal grace given to us, and to experience our total incorporation into Christ in our daily lives.
A great example of a Baptismal catechesis is found in today's Gospel of Jesus' cleansing of the Temple. Our Baptism is a cleansing of all our sins. Lent is a cleansing, through Penance, of all our impurities. How does Jesus get our lives ready for the new and eternal life of Easter? He comes to clean his house! Though it might seem to us that He is angry and has lost control, in reality Jesus is washing his Temple, the Father's house, our lives clean from sin. That's why the question for this time of Lent is simple: If Jesus comes to me today, to my Temple, to my life, to my body, what does he find? Who is the real god of my life? What do I truly desire with all my heart, mind, and
strength? Where am I spending my time? What does Jesus see today in place of the true worship of God, a house of prayer, or a marketplace? Have perhaps things other than God become my first concern? Is my relationship with God a business for my own gain?
“His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me” (Jn 2:17). To get to Easter we need zeal, that is, enthusiasm, true attention, love and care for the things of God, for the holy things, for what's true and valuable. Love requires something very simple: that we throw other things away. Love for God's house requires change and cleansing, that we overturn the tables of the money changers! Lent is the time to throw away all the junk that right now takes the place of God. It's the time to renew and strengthen our Baptismal vocation. At Mass, we give up our lives to God and to each other, united to the one eternal sacrifice of Christ.
There is parallel here at Queen of Peace between the cleansing of God’s temple, which is our life, and the rebuilding of His house, which is our new parish center. The spiritual building of our faith and love are the entire purpose of Christ's ministry, and they are the purpose of our new parish center. I am deeply grateful to all of you who have made a pledge, perhaps deciding to give something up in your life in order to put this mission, to put God first. We only have a short way to go to reach our $5 million. We are so close it is important to keep up our momentum. if you have not made a pledge yet, please make sure you do. Also, talk to your friends and make sure they have made a pledge.
In front of the total gift of God to ourselves in the Eucharist, we place our time and treasure, our securities and plans, at the feet of the One who truly loves and purifies us. Let us keep each other in prayer as we walk this beautiful journey of Lent with our Lord!
Father Felix P. Medina Algaba