There was a story of a well-known advocate from U.S. who tried in his own little way to break down racial discrimination by travelling around 1,000 miles by train in order to speak to a predominantly white audience in just five minutes. We might ask, what prompt this person to work with ‘zeal’ for a noble cause that it would not matter to him at all to travel a thousand miles just to talk in just five minutes?
Another story that I would like to share is about our founder, Saint John Eudes, who has a great zeal for his ‘Master,’ especially in preaching His Word. One day on February 8, 1661, while delivering his sermon, the Queen of France came. Without a second thought, our founder had found the opportunity to get his message across by using the circumstance of the fire that burned a section of Louvre. Speaking directly in his sermon, he says, “If temporal fire has not spared the royal house, the eternal fire will spare neither princes nor princesses, kings nor queens, unless they live like Christians and take pity on their subject, and unless they use their authority to destroy the tyranny of the devil and sin and to establish the kingdom of God in the souls of their subjects.” Then, he continued, “My sole interest in saying these things was the interest of my Master, and my God, as well as the salvation of my King and Queen for whom I would lay down a thousand lives.”
We can draw many remarkable stories about people who are passionately driven with ‘zeal’ for the love of God. Oftentimes, this ‘zeal’ is a driving force that would prompt the person to do remarkable things. Extraordinarily, Jesus in our gospel today possesses that great ‘zeal’ by defending His ‘Father’s house’ from people who defile it and makes it a marketplace. By turning over the table of the money-changers, and scattering their coins with a whip of cords, Jesus is making a statement to the people of authorities who are behind this business. Moreover, as a consequence for Jesus’ action, his life is at stake. But for Jesus, for the sake of love for God, everything will have its way, since his ‘zeal devours him like fire.’
What kind of ‘zeal’ do we need in our church today? Does our ‘zeal’ consumed us to bring God’s love to our brothers and sisters? our beloved Pope Francis mentions in his homily that our Church has a need for apostolic zeal or it would run the risk of a mere philanthropic organization or non governmental organization: “When we forget our mission, forget poverty, forget apostolic zeal and we trust in these means, the Church slowly slides into a non governmental organization and becomes just a nice institution: powerful, but not evangelical, because it lacks its spirit, its poverty, its healing strength.”