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Zeal for your house

Mar 7, 2012, 3:14 PM | Article By: [Rev. Fr. Anthony C. Mbanefo, MSP, Missionary Society of St. Paul]

Today, we live in a world of diplomacy.People have to learn how to get along with others in the best way without hurting their feelings.There is definitely something very good about learning how to relate and getting on well with everybody, but the only thing is that truth is most times, sacrificed at the altar of ‘peace’.Unfortunately, our world is yet to learn that the last thing that could be built on the foundation of falsehood is lasting peace.Christ the Saviour, when he came to establish peace on earth, realised that such an enterprise needs something deeper than mere conformity with societal norms and conventional regulations.He also realised how hypocritical and insincere, human institutions, including the religious hierarchy of his own time and place have become.They block people from the vision of God who is truth and obstruct them from the observance of his precepts which are right.By his direct confrontation of them, and his insisting on right and truth, he cleared his Father’s house which was hitherto made obscure and clouded by their crocked lives and insincere words.It was the zeal for his Father’s house that has driven him to this point and he has to pay by making the supreme sacrifice on the cross.This is so in order that all those who are being consumed with zeal for the law of the Lord and truth and holiness of his house could arrive by means of the cross and the man on it.May the following sections of God’s word help all of us who are being possessed by this very zeal to arrive:Exodus 20: 1-17,Leviticus 19: 1-37,Psalm 18,1 Corinthians 1: 22-25 and the Gospel of St. John 2: 13-25.

We have a tendency of looking up to one another for approval or for a standard.We also mostly decide what we do for others and what we give to them by what we receive from them in cash or kind.God our Father knows that this is the standard we use in our sinfulness and ignorance in every aspect and conduct of our day to day dealings with our brothers and sisters.This standard is wrong because our lives and everything that we receive come from God, so he should be our ideal and point of reference.He also has the right scale at every time and could neither be deceived nor deceive at any rate, so it is only to him that we are supposed to look up for the approval of any one of our actions.On the day therefore, that he was giving us the ten commandments through Moses, he made it clear that he should always be our purpose, standard and reference point in our drive to observe these commandments.He started the commandment by reminding the people that it is him who is making the pronouncement:“I am the Lord your God” (Ex. 20:1).Whenever he pronounces most of the commandments in the Leviticus account, he would repeat the following assertion: “I am the Lord”.In all then, he wanted them to look up to him as their overall pattern and goal.He was asking them to love their neighbour, for example, not because of what their neighbour has done to merit or not to merit that love but because of he himself who has loved them, and it is he himself that is giving them the commandments.Again he asked them to act according to truth and right not minding what this or that person might do, say or think but because he himself is the truth and the righteous one and all are accountable to him and he, the law giver is going to judge all according to truth and right.

Christ the Saviour, when he came among us, was so distressed to see how his people especially the political/religious authorities have watered down the precepts of his Father and the whole question of truth and right in favour of their own convenience.People ‘respect’ them and didn’t tell them what is right.They loved their own position, the unjust structure and sinful foundation and didn’t want to reform it.Christ was being consumed with the zeal to put things aright.His Father was his ideal, His (Father’s) law was his objective and His (Father’s) house was his concern.He confronted without any human diplomacy, those who were doing the wrong thing.“Making a whip out of some cord, he drove them all out of the Temple, cattle and sheep as well, scattered the money changers coins, knocked their tables over”(John 2:15)and told them without any atom of hypocrisy the following truth of the matter:“Take all this out of here and stop turning my Father’s house into a market” (John 2:16).

What Christ did was by no means prudent or diplomatic in the standard of the world, but the thing is that he was so consumed by zeal for his Father’s house that the approval of men which is no approval meant nothing to him.Above all, the scripture stated that “he never needed evidence about any man, he could tell what a man had in him” (John 2:25).Christ paid by allowing the temple of God which was his body to be torn down, but that was only necessary so that all those who are yearning for the truth and right, and the observance of the precepts of the Lord in the way it should (in the midst of the hypocrisyand false diplomacy of our world) should through him gain access to their destination which is the God of the covenant, and not just access but wisdom, power and victory.

And so as St. Paul declared, “While Jews demand miracles and Greeks look for wisdom, here are we, preaching a crucified Christ, to the Jews an obstacle that they cannot get over, to the pagans madness, but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, a Christ who is the power and wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength”(Corth 1:22-25).