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Zeal

The story is told about a zealous young pastor who tried to make the Church relevant, especially to the youth. First, he changed the front pews into bucket seats and then he brought in a rock ’n’ roll Gospel choir. To top it all, he set up a drive-through confessional. Chill!

In today’s Gospel (Jn. 2: 13-25), we witness the zeal of Jesus for His Father’s house when he angrily drove away the vendors of oxen, sheep and doves, as well as the money changers from the temple, and said: “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” What would Jesus drive out from our churches today? What marketplace practices do we need to remove to purify our faith?

It can happen that some people become “overzealous” for the Father’s house. Yes, some churches are overdecorated and ostentatious. For the glory of God? Or for the glory of the builder, or the donors?

The whole message of Jesus in today’s Gospel is that the essence of worship and prayer is the heart. More than the place, the rubrics, and the traditions, worship and prayer must come from a sincere, contrite and humble heart.

I have seen a lot of churches in Europe, and I have been awed by their beauty and grandeur, but it is the “Porciuncula,” the little chapel made by Saint Francis himself with his first companions in Assisi, Italy, that really inspires and moves me. It is so small and so simple, yet so filled with the loving presence of God.

Let us not turn our own houses into a marketplace, where all we talk about is money and material things, even at our dining table. For that matter, let us not allow money matters to destroy our relationships. A lot of families and friendships, even societies and congregations, have been destroyed because of money, and money matters.

The evil one knows how to deceive us. He is the expert in destroying our peace, even our very souls. And one of his best

instruments of destruction has been, and still is, money, money, money.

It’s all about cleaning up our attitude. Last week I was asking the Lord why my hands still hurt three weeks after my accident, and why I have canker sores on my upper lip which are painful and uncomfortable. In prayer, the grace came when I realized that there are people who have much bigger pain and suffering. So instead of complaining, I decided to gratefully offer my pain for other people and for the reparation of my sins. And everything became light, and bright, and meaningful. Yes, a change of negative attitudes leads us to gratitude.

In our Muñoz clan reunion last week, we had so much fun. It was a grace-filled time for remembering, rejoicing and renewing our bonds with the Lord and with one another. The highlight of our gathering was when our eldest cousin, Pakit Muñoz, opened his heart and soul to us and shared his journey to God’s heart. His humility, honesty and sincere desire to be at peace with God was such an inspiration for us all. Salamat ya balbaleg, Kuya Pakit!

I am glad that our family reunion was not marred by business or money matters. We don’t have much of those in the first place. And we value relationships over and above these, thanks to the religious values we learned from our parents. Faith and family are our real treasures. Let us not allow materialism to destroy them.

We said goodbye last Feb. 26 to a zealous worker for the Father’s house, Fr. Ben Mamuad, SVD, who for 13 years endured severe pain, though graciously and cheerfully. Father Ben, who underwent dialysis thrice a week, wrote about his trials, and some lines I quote here: “Being afflicted with illness is a gift of God. It is one of His unique ways of showing His love for us.” “Physical illness is nothing compared to the illness of the soul. For once the soul gets sick and is not given due treatment, that will mean the end of one’s existence.” “Every time I witnessed my impure blood flowing out of my veins and then flowing back to my body, now ‘magically cleansed and purified,’ making me healthy and normal again, I would feel that my tarnished soul would also be purified, thus deepening and strengthening my faith in God.”

A moment with the Lord:

Lord, help us to be zealous for You and for Your house. Amen.

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