Jesus performs the great cleansing of the temple by driving out merchants, animals, and money changers. In the temple of our own heart, Lent also can be an occasion for such purification, both from that which burdens it and from that which distracts it. Jesus’s action is therefore healing: a call to simplicity, purity, detachment, and conversion in our prayer and the practice of our faith, as well as in our whole Christian life. We have the tendency to become oriented towards busyness and making compromises in our Christian life.
During this Lenten season, we are invited to recognize how the things in our hearts—without being bad in themselves and even good for parts of our journey—are now useless and burden us instead. It can also be more serious and concern sin or our inclinations to sin. This is how we can understand the zeal in Jesus’s actions in the temple. The wrath of God in the Bible refers to the incompatibility of human sin with the holiness of God. Let us drive all of this out of our hearts! Our whip in this case is our desire to serve the Lord by giving ourselves completely to Him, our resolutions to break this habit or that complacency, our efforts based in God’s grace, which we must implore in prayer and accept in our lives.
This is in line with a conviction of St. Teresa: “The whole point is that we should give ourselves to Him with complete determination, and we should empty the soul in such a way that He can store things there or take them away as though it were His own property […] And since He doesn’t force our will, He takes what we give Him” (The Way of Perfection 28.12).
Guillaume Dehorter, O.C.D.
Lent 2021 Carmelite Online Retreat, Week Three (excerpt)
Retreat meditations © Carmes de Paris, all rights reserved.
Translation by Pier Giorgio Pacelli, O.C.D.