You are that Temple

A Resurrectionist Vocation Minute for March 3, 3rd Sunday of Lent

You are that Temple

Often people refer to Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple jokingly or half-jokingly as a “holy” justification for outbursts of anger, saying things like: “well, Jesus flipped tables.”

Whether or not we find the reference amusing, it’s not at all what Jesus was up to in the cleansing of the Temple, which we hear from John’s Gospel this Sunday, but which also appears in all four Gospels.

We should not automatically assume that all the money changers and those selling oxen, sheep, and doves were doing anything unethical, such as overcharging people.  They were simply providing what most people would consider a “necessary” service, given the circumstances.  Many Jews came from quite some distance to offer sacrifice to God in the Temple, it was a lot more convenient to buy the animals for sacrifice on site than to have to bring them yourself all the way from home.  As for the money changers, Roman currency had an inscription that read: “Caesar Augustus Tiberius, son of the Divine Augustus.”  This was blasphemous to Jewish sensibilities – it was one thing to have to use it in an economy under Roman occupation, it was another to use it in the Temple.  The money changers gave people an opportunity to have at least some part of their lives – their religion – free of visible reminders of their oppressors.    

But like so many things we think to be “necessary”, it seems they were beginning to obscure the purpose of Temple itself – which is why Jesus said: “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”

We can all appreciate the point Jesus was making about the Temple – but what about our own lives?  “But he was speaking about the temple of his body.”  Our bodies are just as much a Temple of the Holy Spirit as Jesus’ body was.  Lent is a time when we also cleanse ourselves of some of those things we think we just can’t go without, an opportunity to rediscover – or to discover for the first time – our vocation, the purpose of our bodies and our lives, which are Temples of the Holy Spirit.

“Inspired by the words of the Apostle Paul who tells us: “What I do is discipline my own body and master it” (I Cor 9:27), we regard the practice of external mortification as a necessary means to give our wills more perfect control over our other faculties. Mortification will help us to attain the freedom of the sons of God and will make us more receptive to God's graces”

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