As Jesus began chasing away vendors and animals from the Temple he said “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!” This wordsare very actual, for all throughout history there has been always someone who mixed up things, confusing religion with economic interests. The Church is guilty of many of this kind of sin. Up to now religion is often used to hide or justify interests that have nothing to do with the Gospel. And this sadly leads to an inevitable loss of credibility. I wonder if it is still possible to have a great shrine divested of economic interests.
But this is not the main teaching of today’s Gospel. The central message flows from another expression: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Here Jesus is not referring anymore to the commerce in the temple, but he introduces the idea of a new temple: “he was speaking of the temple of his body.”The Jews had a strong conviction that God inhabited the Temple of Jerusalem and flocked to it so to offer sacrifices. They believed that the smell of incense and the blood of the victims pleased God. Now Jesus affirms that the role of this kind of religion came to an end; God is about to constitute a new temple which will really please him.
In the dialogue with the Samaritan woman Jesus introduces the same idea: “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” [Jn 4:22-24]
This new temple is indeed a new and different reality that began after 3 days, that is, on the Easter day. Resurrecting Jesus from the death God set Jesus as the foundation stone, then, he added many other living stones to the building, that are the disciples. All of them together form the Body of Christ, the New Temple in which God inhabits. Once, Jesus explained this even further: “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” [Jn 14:23]
It must be clear to us then that our chanting, processions and solemn liturgies offer nothing to God. The only sacrifices that really please him are acts of love and generous service to others, specially the poor, sick, marginalized, homeless and hungry. Every time we turn to one of these brothers and sisters in order to serve them, there raises a pleasing fragrance of our sacrifice to the heavens and we, united with Christ, are transformed into true temples of God.