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God’s weakness | Gospel of March 3

By 28 February, 2024No Comments
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Gospel according to Saint John 2:13-25:

Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of scripture, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.

While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.

God’s weakness

Luis CASASUS President of the Idente Missionaries

Rome, March 03, 2024 | Third Sunday of Lent

Ex 20: 1-17; 1Cor 1: 22-25; Jn 2: 13-25

Innocence: strong and vulnerable. One of the most intense sufferings we can go through is to see the innocent suffer and, consequently, one of the most horrible crimes is to harm them.

In Jerusalem, during the Passover, thousands of pilgrims arrived at the Temple, some of them after a long journey, in which they had invested their earnings of months or years.

The Roman currency was considered impure, so the money changers had the opportunity to obtain great profits, exchanging them for copper coins, the only ones admitted as alms, which the pilgrims gave together with the sacrifice of various animals. The Sadducees controlled all this considerable movement and took advantage of the good faith of these pilgrims to set exorbitant prices and take advantage of the innocent visitors.

On this occasion, the simple faith and love of tradition of the faithful was abused and exploited. Not only that, but the Temple, which represented so much to the Jews, had become a corrupt business. Jesus had to give a sign of total disagreement, in the name of his Father: Do not make my Father’s house a marketplace.

So much for the story of Christ’s reaction. But what does it have to do with us? Are you and I merchants who get rich with the goods of the Church? I don’t think so, but we certainly do not respect and protect the innocence of many people as we should, so we deserve the judgment that Jesus makes today towards the merchants of the Temple.

Innocence is unbearable for those who have mediocre or perverse intentions. So it was for Pharaoh, who asked to exterminate the children of the captive Jews, or for Herod, who feared the birth of a rival. In a culture like today’s, which celebrates sin, and selfishness, the mere existence of a baby represents an indictment. But to us, innocence also makes us tremble. This has always happened in the lives of those who are truly innocent and is particularly clear in some saints and martyrs.

It seems incredible, but the charm that innocence produces in some people can turn into distrust or even aggression. For someone who has unresolvable conflicts inside, that innocence can become unbearable. And in such cases it is not enough to insult that innocence. They have to eliminate it. An explicit case was the execution of St. John the Baptist by Herod Antipas. As it happened with the most innocent person, Christ, the presumed solution is to ignore the source of light, sometimes eliminating it physically or spiritually, which is not difficult, because innocence always goes hand in hand with vulnerability. He came to what was his own, but his own did not receive Him (Jn 1: 11).

When we say that we are very capable of destroying people’s innocence, we are not only referring to cyber-bullying, child abuse or human trafficking. The case of Eve and Adam is very representative of what happens: on the one hand, it is the invitation (Eve) to break a covenant, in this case made directly with God. On the other hand, it is the confirmation and encouragement to do so (Adam), by accepting it as something natural, with no regrets.

We destroy the innocence of younger people when we ironize their dreams, when we show our mediocrity without qualms or shame, or when we use them to our advantage, as do, for example, religious authorities who demand the service of others for their own comfort.

We destroy the innocence of people, especially the young, when they discover that we have lied, even if it is only once, even if it is about an irrelevant matter, even if it is without words, not confessing an action.

We destroy people’s innocence when we invite them to disregard the little rules. Once, a man took his two children to the zoo. At the entrance, the ticket clerk asked him how old the two boys were: Eight and six years old, he replied. The clerk told him: You could have said that the youngest was five, so he would get in for free. No one would have noticed, he said. The father replied: My children would and they would never forget it.

Christ never ceases to praise innocence, even in people who do not accept or believe in him. Thus, when he sees the skeptical Nathanael arrive, he exclaims: Here is a true Israelite in whom there is no falsehood (Jn 1: 47).


In the Second Reading, when St. Paul speaks to us today of God’s foolishness and weakness, he is surely referring to God’s innocence, to his distance from all that is evil and false. This is why God makes himself vulnerable and allows himself to be betrayed by his own creatures. Whoever decides to be innocent, in spite of his sins, receives divine help, and his innocence is restored in the following way:

  1. God allows me to see the effects of my sin, in my life and in the life of my neighbor. So it happened to the younger son of the good father: The son began to say: “Father, I have sinned against God and against you, and I no longer deserve to be called your son” (Lk 15: 21).
  2. He reveals to me the way to do a good opposite to the harm I did. As it happened to the repentant tax collector: And Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my goods I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will repay him fourfold” (Lk 19:8).
  3. My sensibility changes: I do not feel attracted to repeat my scandalous acts. Certainly, I feel a pain, a rejection of my actions, which is a grace that keeps me from the possibility of falling into the same thing again, even if I commit other faults. Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more (Rom 5: 20). My repentance becomes permanent, continuous.

This possibility of restoring innocence is in the depths of the human heart, which trembles because of its own weakness, but at the same time “suspects” that God can work this miracle. This is an aspect of the Spiration that we receive in our mystical life, a form of impulse, a breath of the Holy Spirit, which pushes us, like a little paper boat, in the direction of the good, the true and the beautiful. “Come now, and let us reason,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Is 1:18).

St. John Paul II also had the same impression regarding the Spiration, to which the ascetic responds by inspiring (breathing in), and in this respiratory analogy, he said: Christian spirituality has as its characteristic the duty of the disciple to configure himself more and more fully with his Master, in such a way that (…) we reach the point of “breathing in his feelings” (16 OCT 2002).

This state of innocence places us in the position of being able to receive and accept grace, even if we make many mistakes and faults. This explains why Jesus says: Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven is for such as these (Mt 19: 14).

The innocent person has the ability to reach the heart (not only the mind) of everyone. Let’s imagine that, in an airport waiting room, a person starts greeting everyone, waving and smiling at everyone. The normal reaction would be to avoid meeting his eyes and wait for him to calm down. However, if a child does the same, everyone will smile, the tension will disappear for a moment, everyone will stop looking at the phone and, even if they are worried about the delay of their flight, they will smile and perhaps say a kind word to the little one.

The Gospel text closes today with an observation that we cannot overlook:

While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, many believed in his name when they saw the signs he performed. But Jesus did not entrust himself to them because he knew them all and had no need to be witnessed to about men, for he knew what is in man.

We are reflecting on innocence and it is not difficult to imagine that Christ did not see in these ” fans” true disciples, because they admired His ability to work miracles and His word, but they were not willing to join Him in what He had brought as an authentic way of giving glory to God. As St. Peter says: You also, as living stones, are to be built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1Pet 2: 5). And we well know that this sacrifice acceptable to God is service to the brethren, all others being only an expression and manifestation of our faith in Him.


The First Reading also speaks to us of God’s weakness and innocence. Here we see it in the way He gives us the Ten Commandments, not as a list of prohibitions and threats, not as a limit to people’s happiness, but as a way to live a full life and in particular, the only way to love others, which is a dream we see frustrated again and again as we try to love and be loved in our own way. This trust, this faith in man is His weakness, his foolishness.

The Commandments are not to be looked upon as a series of precepts which, if not observed, imply a penalty. They are, rather, from Christ’s perspective, something beautiful to be given fullness: Do not think that I have come to put an end to the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to put an end to them, but to give them their full value (Mt 5: 17).

The key to understanding the Commandments is the way Yahweh Himself introduces them, remembering that it was He who freed the people from slavery. This is very different, for example, from the famous Code of Hammurabi (1750 B.C.), which has articles such as the following:

If a fire breaks out in a person’s house and a lord who came to put it out sets his eyes on some property of the owner of the house and appropriates some property of the owner of the house, that lord shall be thrown into the fire.

Christ kept his word and gave full value to the Commandments, which do not oblige us to love our enemies, and yet he made this “addition” the distinguishing mark and motto of the Christian, who is called to love without limits or conditions.


In the Sacred Hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,