Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 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.” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me. At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he 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. (John 2:13-22)
In today’s Gospel, we encounter a Jesus with whom many of us are unfamiliar. The same Jesus who called himself “meek and humble of heart” (Mt 11:29) started to overturn tables, tossing money on the floor, and making a whip of cords to drive the sheep and the cattle out of the temple, Jesus referred to the temple as his Father’s house which was being made into “house of trade” (John 2:16) or “den of robbers” (Mark 11:17). That is why he used physical force to expel the money-chargers.
But it was even more than a physical edifice. The Jewish mentality had become so distorted over the centuries that they began to look at their relationship with God as something contractual or even magical. “As long as I sacrifice this animal to God,” they began to think to themselves, “everything will be all right. God will be happy.” Too many people had started to look at the temple as the place to go “bribe” God with their animal sacrifices.
He wanted the temple to be a place of prayer, to be His Father’s House once again, and wanted the people to recover a real notion of what their relationship with the Father should be based on — a contrite, merciful and loving heart.
Therein lies the message for us. Our very bodies, minds and hearts were created by Him. The words and actions that emanate from us speak of whether our hearts are pure and our actions true. Jesus wants to drive out of our bodies and souls anything unfit for God. He does this out of love for God and love for us — and out of hatred and anger toward the sin that kills us and separates us from God. Our temples may not have money changers, but our hearts may value money more than we value God. He wants to drive out our materialism and unite us to his spiritual poverty so that we may treasure his kingdom.
He wants to drive out our hedonism. He wants us to remember that self-centeredness is a block to living out His command of love and care for each other. He wants to expel our individualism and idolatry of autonomy and bind us together with him in a common will do all things that honor His father and bring us closer to Him.
Following the will of His father, Jesus offered the destruction of the temple of His body so that the way would be open for us to know the presence of God within us. Jesus not only reconciles us with God, but he fills us with his Holy Spirit and make us temples of the living God (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
Think about that this day. You are a temple of God. Truly. If you can grasp that, hold on to that, and live that, then the words and actions that are hurtful, sinful and mean spirited will fall away. How can you knowingly lash out at another? How can you cheat another? How can you judge another? How can you malign, distort, be hateful?
You can’t because you have God within. Let His love for you be reflected today in all things.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus Christ, you open wide the door of your Father’s house to me. Help me today to show the love of your Father in all that I do. Draw me even closer to you so that the priorities of my life are centered around your commands.”
The same Jesus whose hands were tied a cord to drive out the money changers and were later nailed to a Cross to free us from our sins now extends those scarred risen hands to us and invites us to trust in him, to take his hands, to yoke ourselves to him, and to become with him a consecrated abode of God, a holy Temple, a house of prayer, a place where his words of eternal life resonate and are put into action.