10 March 2012

'Zeal for your house will devour me'. Sunday Reflections for 3rd Sunday of Lent, Year B

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

An Soiscéal Eoin 2:13-25 (Gaeilge, Irish)

Nuair a bhí Cáisc na nGiúdach in achmaireacht agus chuaigh Íosa suas go Iarúsailéim dá bhrí sin. Fuair sé sa sanctóir lucht ba agus caoirigh agus colmáin a dhíol, agus lucht airgead a mhalartú ina suí ann. Agus rinne sé sciúirse de théada agus thiomáin sé iad go léir amach as an sanctóir, na caoirigh agus na ba chomh maith; scaip sé airgead an lucht mhalartaithe agus leag sé na boird, agus dúirt sé le lucht na gcolmán a dhíol: “Beirigí na nithe sin as seo agus ná déanaigí teach margaidh de theach m’Athar.” Chuimhnigh a dheisceabail go bhfuil sé scríofa: “Déanfaidh díograis do thí mé a ithe.” D’fhreagair na Giúdaigh ansin: “Cén comhartha,” ar siad leis, “atá á thaispeáint agat dúinn mar bhonn lena bhfuil á dhéanamh agat?” D’fhreagair Íosa: “Leagaigí an teampall seo,” ar sé leo, “agus i dtrí lá tógfaidh mé suas arís é.” Dúirt na Giúdaigh á fhreagairt: “Sé bliana agus daichead atá an Teampall seo á thógáil, agus an dtógfaidh tusa é i dtrí lá?” Ach ar theampall a choirp féin a bhí seisean ag labhairt. Nuair a d’aiséirigh sé ó mhairbh, dá bhrí sin, chuimhnigh a dheisceabail go ndúirt sé an chaint seo agus chreid siad sa scrioptúr agus sa chaint a dúirt Íosa. Fad bhí sé in Iarúsailéim le linn féile na Cásca chreid a lán ina ainm nuair a chonaic siad na comharthaí a bhí á ndéanamh aige. Ach Íosa féin, níor thug sé é féin ar iontaoibh dóibh mar gurb aithnid dó iad go léir. Agus nach raibh aon ghá aige go dtabharfadh aon duine fianaise dó i dtaobh an duine. Óir bhí fhios aige féin cad a bhí sa duine.

The Scripture text the disciples recalled, Zeal for your house will devour me (Ps 69:9 reminds me of part of a letter of St Francis Xavier to St Ignatius and included in the Office of Readings for the feast of the great missionary: I have very often had the notion to go round the universities of Europe, and especially Paris, and to shout aloud everywhere like a madman, and to bludgeon those people who have more learning than love, with these words, ‘Alas, what an immense number of souls are excluded from heaven through your fault and thrust down to hell!’
A heroic Irish Jesuit who found his mission on the Western Front during the Great War (1914-1918), Fr William Doyle SJ, was also 'devoured by zeal for his house', as this extract from his biography by Alfred O’Rahilly shows. I’ve taken it from the post for 5 March 2012 on Remembering Fr William Doyle SJ.
Fr William Doyle SJ (3 March 1873 – 16 August 1917)

It was not long before he had an experience of real danger. On Sunday, 5th March, he said Mass for the 8th Fusiliers. After he had finished (about 9 o’clock) he mounted his bicycle in order to go to the 8th Inniskillings, of whom he also had charge, and say Mass at eleven for them. They were stationed four miles away near the ruined village of Mazingarbe. Fr. Doyle may be left to describe his adventure in his own words.

“On the way I noticed that heavy firing was going on ahead, but it was only when I reached a bend in the road that I realized the enemy were actually shelling the very spot I had to pass. Some soldiers stopped me, saying it was dangerous to go on. At the moment I was wondering what had become of the side of a vacant house which had suddenly vanished in a cloud of smoke, and I was painfully aware of the proximity of high explosive shells.

“Here was a fix! I knew my regiment was waiting in the village for Mass, and also that half of them were going to the trenches that afternoon for the first time; if I did not turn up they would lose Confession and Holy Communion, but the only way to reach them was by the shell-swept road. What really decided me was the thought that I was carrying the Blessed Sacrament, and I felt that, having our Lord Himself with me, no harm could possibly come to me. I mounted the bicycle and faced the music. I don’t want you to think me very brave and courageous, for I confess I felt horribly afraid; it was my baptism of fire, and one needs to grow accustomed to the sound of bursting shells. Just then I was wishing my regiment in Jericho and every German gun at the bottom of the Red Sea or any other hot place.

“Call it a miracle if you will, but the moment I turned the corner the guns ceased firing, and not a shell fell till I was safely in the village Church. My confidence in God’s protection was not misplaced. Naturally I did not know this was going to happen, and it was anything but pleasant riding down the last stretch of road, listening for the scream of the coming shell. Have you ever had a nightmare in which you were pursued by ten mad bulls, while the faster you tried to run, the more your feet stuck in the mud? These were just my feelings as I pedalled down that blessed road which seemed to grow longer and longer the further I went.

“At last I turned the corner, reached the Church, and had just begun Mass when down came the hail of shells once more. One or two must have burst very close, judging by the way the walls shook, but I felt quite happy and quite ready to be blown from the altar, for I saw a fine plump Frenchwoman just behind me; she might have been killed, but I was quite safe!

“I mention this little adventure as I think it will console you, as it has consoled me, showing that all the good prayers are not in vain, and that this is a happy omen of God’s loving protection from all dangers. I have just heard that one, at least, of the men to whom I gave Holy Communion that morning was killed the same night in the trenches.”

Father Willie Doyle’s zeal was to lead to his own death on 16 August 1917 during the Third Battle of Ypres (Ieper), blown to pieces by a German shell about 15 minutes after he had made his last confession and nearly two years after he had gone to the Western Front as a chaplain in the British army. He was one of around 500,000 from both sides killed or wounded in the battle that lasted from July to November 1917.

O my God, pour out in abundance Thy spirit of sacrifice upon Thy priests. It is both their glory and their duty to become victims, to be burnt up for souls, to live without ordinary joys, to be often the objects of distrust, injustice, and persecution.
The words they say every day at the altar, "This is my Body, this is my Blood," grant them to apply to themselves: "I am no longer myself, I am Jesus, Jesus crucified. I am, like the bread and wine, a substance no longer itself, but by consecration another."
O my God, I burn with desire for the sanctification of Thy priests. I wish all the priestly hands which touch Thee were hands whose touch is gentle and pleasing to Thee, that all the mouths uttering such sublime words at the altar should never descend to speaking trivialities.
Let priests in all their person stay at the level of their lofty functions, let every man find them simple and great, like the Holy Eucharist, accessible to all yet above the rest of men. O my God, grant them to carry with them from the Mass of today, a thirst for the Mass of tomorrow, and grant them, ladened themselves with gifts, to share these abundantly with their fellow men. Amen.

Gospel John 2:13-25 (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Just before the Jewish Passover Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and in the Temple he found people selling cattle and sheep and pigeons, and the money changers sitting at their counters there. 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 and said to the pigeon-sellers, 'Take all this out of here and stop turning my Father's house into a market.' Then his disciples remembered the words of scripture: Zeal for your house will devour me. The Jews intervened and said, 'What sign can you show us to justify what you have done?' Jesus answered, 'Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up.' The Jews replied, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this sanctuary: are you going to raise it up in three days?' But he was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body, and when Jesus rose from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the words he had said. During his stay in Jerusalem for the Passover many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he gave, but Jesus knew them all and did not trust himself to them; he never needed evidence about any man; he could tell what a man had in him.

No comments: