Third Sunday of Lent: Jesus the Holy Disrupter

March 3, 2024 | Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy | Today’s Readings

“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 Fathers house a marketplace.” (John 2:15-16)


If I’m honest, my default image of Jesus is that of a restorer. The stories of him healing, raising up, or calming the sea resonate most with me. Yet today’s Gospel requires me to ponder a decidedly different image: Jesus the disrupter. 

Nothing in John’s passage of Cleansing of the Temple is gentle, and in fact Jesus is downright formidable: spilling coins, overturning tables, fashioning a whip from cords… It’s because Jesus is livid, and for good reason.

While it may not feel comfortable or natural for us to imagine Jesus as angry, the truth is, at times he chose anger to disrupt injustice.

The corruption and greed during Passover’s Temple celebration had gotten out of hand; the marketplace bazaar had overrun the holy ground and something drastic needed to be done.

In my advocacy to end the death penalty in the United States, executions are regular reminders to me that death-dealing and disregard for human life has gotten out of hand. Six weeks ago, the state of Alabama executed Kenny Smith by lethal gas. It was appalling and shocking; I was furious and every fiber of my being felt upended by the barbarous act. I communicated that indignation in the press: “What in the world…have we lost our minds?”  

Jesus’ anger in the Temple — experiencing Jesus the disrupter — feels, well, consoling, like a friend locking arms in solidarity in response to witnessing injustice. And so I will welcome the challenge in this Lenten passage to remember Jesus as a holy disrupter.

This week’s reading prompts us to engage in our own introspection during this season of repentance: Like Jesus in the temple, am I disrupting the injustice I am witness to? Is this a time when God is urging me toward holy disruption? Or, is it myself that needs to change?

If I’m continuing to be honest, our Lenten journey could benefit from a touch of disruption, adding an appropriate agitation and gravity to this season of soul searching and repentance. The journey toward healing and restoration often requires it.

So maybe it’s time to ponder those questions, asking how and where I am called to disrupt injustice, and in what ways might I be in desperate need of disruption myself.  

This post originally appeared on the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s blog as part of the Lent 2024: Refresh series and is republished here with permission.

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