3rd Sunday of Lent (B)


3rd. SUNDAY OF LENT (B) John 2: 13-25 - March 04, 2018

Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up (…) He was speaking about the temple of his body

When we hear about the destruction of something great as the millennial statues in some oriental country, or the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, or any important building target of terrorism, or for other reasons, we are just shocked and cannot believe our ears. When the Jews heard Jesus saying, facing the temple of Jerusalem, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up,” they felt incredulous and offended. What they did not know was that Jesus was referring not to their temple, as a sacred place, still in the process of being constructed for forty-six years; according to the Gospel of Saint John we hear today, “Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.” This is a clear prophecy of Jesus about his resurrection, and since we Christians are the body of the Lord, he meant also our own resurrection.

The Passover was near, and as a good Jew, Jesus went up to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast. He found at the temple area those who were selling animals for sacrifice as well as the money changers. With much anger born of zeal for his Father´s house Jesus "making a whip of cords, drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple." He said "Take these out of here, and stop making my Father's house a marketplace." When the temple Jewish authorities demanded a sign from Jesus for what he had done, he said, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." Then John adds that since Jesus was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus did not trust them.

We should not be surprised looking at this scene of today´s Gospel. This image of Jesus is far different from the sweet holy cards we are used to see. By the matter of fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us "Like the prophets before him Jesus expressed the deepest respect for the Temple in Jerusalem. It was in the Temple that Joseph and Mary presented him forty days after his birth. (Lk 2:22-39) At the age of twelve he decided to remain in the Temple to remind his parents that he must be about his Father's business. He went there each year during his hidden life at least for Passover. (Cf. Lk 2:41) His public ministry itself was patterned by his pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the great Jewish feasts. (Cf. Jn 2:13-14; 15:1, 14; 7:1, 10, 14; 8:2; 10:22-23)" (CCC 583)

The Old Testament prophets scolded the people for being satisfied for just going to the temple and at the same time committing all kinds of abominations. We now understand Jesus´ angry reaction against those who had converted that holy place in a marketplace. The Jews believed that the temple was a holy place of prayer, but had ignored it, and most of all, they were unable to see that Jesus himself was the new temple.

We cannot be like the Jewish authorities who did not see that Jesus is the one sent by God to dwell among us in many and new ways. Much greater of the temple of Jerusalem, made by human hands, is our Lord's Body, of which he says, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Of course, this prophecy helps us in our Lenten preparation to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ and helps us to renew our baptism as new temples of Christ. Something important that we learn in the Gospel today is the revelation of Jesus that since we are members of Christ´s Body, the one who believes in him will dwell where he dwells, with the Father.

Let us not reduce the presence of Jesus to the Holy Scripture and the Sacraments. We should not ignore the presence of his Mystical Body in the poor. For us members of the Catholic Church, the most sacred presence of the Lord Jesus is the Holy Eucharist. But we Catholics forget quite often that he is also present in a special way in the least of his brothers and sisters. According to what Jesus teaches us in the parables of the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46) and the one of the Poor Lazarus (Lk 16: 19-31) we will not be tested on the basis of whether we recognize his presence in the Eucharist, but whether we recognize his presence and treat with compassion to the least of his brothers and sisters, who are his body.

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