3rd Sunday of Lent, Year B

John 2:13-25

 13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” 20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
Reflection, By Fr Aldo, sx

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.

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