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John 2:13-22

The Word of God

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, 'Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father's house a market-place!' His disciples remembered that it was written, 'Zeal for your house will consume me.' The Jews then said to him, 'What sign can you show us for doing this?' Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' The Jews then said, 'This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?' But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

John 2:13-22
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • The Lateran Basilica is the Pope’s cathedral, and today’s feast reminds of the fact that as believers we are members of the People of God, the universal Church. This can sometimes become a source of frustration and even anger, but it is also the source of so much gratitude and consolation: I received the faith because it was kept alive in the Church, which is the church of sinners but also of saints. May I be able to keep it alive and pass it on to others who come after me. I pray in a special way for Pope Francis and his mission as our universal shepherd.
    • Jesus speaks of his body as the temple, a living temple. Saint Peter speaks of us as living stones being built into a spiritual house, around Jesus, the living corner stone. Yet so often we get stuck in dead stones, whether it is in buildings or traditions that are dead, which become more important then being a living stone. May we too, like the disciples, understand these words of Jesus and believe them.
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    • Jesus respected the holy place and time by going up to the Temple at the Passover. The times, places and people of our lives deserve to be honoured and recognised for the part they play in helping us to understand how God relates to us.
    • Jesus cautions us against being careless or blasé. I think again about what I need to take him seriously, reviewing my life with the help of the Holy Spirit so I may recognise how I honour what is really important.
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    • This strong action of Jesus can surprise us. The sale of animals and the work of the moneychangers are associated with sacrificial offerings to Yahweh. Jesus saw that they had gone too far and that the business aspect was overriding the true purpose of the temple which was prayer and worship.
    • In his conversation Jesus spoke of himself as being the temple of God. Paul reminds us that we too are the temple of God. This can easily be forgotten if the commercial element of our lives takes precedence.
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    • Commerce was necessary to sustain the worship of God in his temple. Animals had to be sold for sacrifice, Roman money changed into Jewish money to pay the temple tax. But where should this commerce take place? Not within the temple precinct! Jesus is angry that "my Father's house" was being turned into a marketplace. Does Jesus express his anger appropriately? What might desecrate our places of worship today?
    • John's gospel frequently plays on the double-meaning of words. Here, in the dialogue between Jesus and the Jews, there is a breakdown in communication. The Jews understand "temple" to apply only to the building in which they are standing. Jesus, however, is applying the term to his own body and is prophesying his resurrection. This was to be the sign about which they had been asking.
    • Have you ever encountered similar incomprehension in conversations about religious matters?
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    • In imagination I stand in the Temple courtyard, as the young Rabbi from Galilee enters. I notice the courtyard, the sounds, the smells, the rattle of coins on the tables, the reek and cries of the animals. I watch Jesus, see the blood rush to his face. He has come to reverence the temple and to pray. Instead he finds all the focus is on business. Suddenly I sense a whirlwind of anger as he whips the hucksters and scatters their money. This is a new side of Jesus and it shakes me. I stay with it.
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    • There may be junk and clutter in the temple of my heart too. How can I clear it to provide a Sacred Space for God today?
    • Often it is only in hindsight that we see the meaning of an event. Can you recall having such an experience lately? Our Lady ‘treasured in her heart’ the things about Jesus which she did not yet understand. Let me be like her.
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    • Jesus is angry as He sees the lack of respect the people have for His Father’s house, the place of prayer, the place of Presence. The people are blind to who Jesus is, and deaf to His message. How often do we misunderstand one another and so turn away shaking our heads at what we consider foolishness?
    • How patient you are with us Lord as we stumble and weave our way through life without the realisation of your silent Presence waiting for us to awaken to your unfailing love
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    • I pray: ‘Jesus, you got really angry in the temple! Are there things about me that make you angry? My heart is your temple: do I clutter it up so much that there is little space for you?’
    • When I see things going on which are wrong, do I do anything about it? I need to ask Jesus for some of his courage to stand up for the truth and not to give in to those who threaten me.
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    • I imagine myself visiting the Temple when Jesus enters. I am accustomed to the moneychangers, and to the hucksters who convenience worshippers by selling cattle, sheep and doves for the ritual sacrifices. The fury of Jesus startles and upsets me, makes me think. Surely these guys are making an honest few bucks?
    • But this is the house of God. When money creeps in, it tends to take over. Is there any of the Christian sacraments untouched by commercialism? Christening parties, First Communion money, Confirmation discos, wedding feasts… They are meant to be the touch of God at key moments in our lives; but can God get a hearing amid the clatter of coins?
    • The temple was one of the most sacred religious sites and mysteries for Jesus' people. For him to compare his body and himself to the temple and to declare that he was greater than the temple would insult his people and bring him to death. In prayer we watch for what is behind what Jesus says in the events and to the people of his time. Later they would all remember and realise that he foretold his resurrection. He knew he was 'in for the long haul' - he would live forever, raised from death among us all.

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