Sanctity of the Temple

John 2:13-22
EZ 47:1-2,8-9,12 / Ps 46 / 1Cor 3:9-11,16-17

“Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
(John 2:16-17)

Let our Church be a font of grace,
Where we honor Christ’s sacrifice;
Don’t treat it like a marketplace,
True worship doesn’t have a price.

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 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. To those who sold doves He said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then responded to Him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple He had spoken of was His body. 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. (John 2:13-22)

Reflection

As the Passover neared, livestock traders began to congregate in the temple courtyard, as this was the time of the year when Jews bought sheep or oxen for their Passover meals. Currency dealers also set up shop to take advantage of pilgrim Jews from foreign lands who had come to the temple for this important festival. When Jesus saw how commerce was desecrating that place of worship, He made a whip out of cords and drove the traders and money changers out of the temple grounds. In so doing, our Lord showed the officials and the people His authority to cleanse His Father’s house of the impurities being allowed by the high priests of the temple.

“What authority gives you the right to do this?” the Jews questioned Jesus. For one who seemed to be a maverick against the traditional practices of the Jews, Jesus had performed an outrageous act in order to preserve the very traditions of Mosaic law, which emphasized holiness in all aspects of worship. For one Who was noted for His gentle nature, this ‘outburst’ was also meant to expose the hypocrisy of the high priests and Pharisees, whose love for money gave license to the traders to ply their trade in holy grounds where only prayers and offerings were traditionally allowed. Thus His “outrage” was justified, as He quoted Jeremiah (7:11): My house shall be a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of thieves. (Mt.21:13)

This temple “cleansing” is significant because it is related in all the four gospels of the Bible. It therefore clearly demonstrates our Lord’s righteous indignation against those who use the Church or its facilities for commercial profit. Our Lord reminds us that no man can serve two masters. “He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.” (Mt.6:24) This Gospel narrative also shows the passion of God in cleansing our body (the temple of the Holy Spirit) of all the impurities of this world. St. Paul wrote: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1Cor 6:19-21).

Like the proverbial saw that says, east and west, never the twain shall meet, who indeed can serve both God and mammon? And yet we see it often enough in some enterprising people who regard the Church community as one big marketplace where they can sell their farm produce. Or some brothers or sisters who take advantage of their membership in the prayer community to build their marketing network. We often hear it said, “nothing is sacred anymore.” In our need to make money, we can lose sight of the real purpose of our life in the renewal. Trust is one of the pillars of our brotherhood, simply because we regard each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. If our business venture fails, that pillar of trust is eroded and weakened. Remember, nothing must ever compromise our faith. Not even the promise of millions.

Lord, may we honor Your Church as we honor the temple of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Comments are closed.