If you’ve ever channel surfed in the afternoon, chances are you found an episode of Judge Judy. Chances are also good that the case you landed on involved a landlord vs. a tenant from hell. These cases usually have a common theme: Tenant signs lease, moves in, then gradually breaks every promise made on that lease. The result is a property in shambles and hard feelings all around.
Imagine how humanity’s Landlord feels about the way we observe the lease on life he granted us. You can do that before this Sunday’s mass while perusing its readings.
In the first reading (ez 47:1-2, 8-9, 12), the prophet Ezekiel is being taken on a tour of the property being offered to us. Our Landlord’s agent is showing Ezekiel all the nice features of this property and describing terms of the lease.
“Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live,” the angel explains. “And there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh. Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”
What a deal. Any potential tenant would be crazy not to jump at this lease and agree to its terms. But you don’t have to watch Judge Judy to know that human beings aren’t always faithful to their promises. We start taking our property for granted, abusing our privileges and disrespecting the covenant with our LandLord. This Sunday’s gospel (jn 2:13-22) shows us what his son did when he saw what was happening to his Father’s property:
“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.’”
The moral to all Judge Judy cases is that people who don’t respect others don’t respect themselves either. And that’s just what St. Paul tells the Corinthians in our second reading (1 cor 3:9c-11, 16-17):
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.”
Our souls dwell in houses designed by a Master builder who expects us to care for his property until the lease is up. On that last day we will face someone who is both Lord of our Land and Judge of our soul—and impervious to our remotes.