The Cleansing of the Temple


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

Take these out of here, and stop making My Father’s house a marketplace.
(John 2:16)

Our body is a temple chaste
Purified by the blood of Christ;
Don’t treat it like a marketplace,
It was redeemed at a great 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 market!” 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

Imagine our Lord’s consternation when He came up to the temple to pray, only to be confronted by stalls of money-changers, and merchants selling various animals used in offering sacrifices. In the din of hagglers and vendors, and the cacophony of animals bound or in cages, the temple’s courtyard had been transformed into a marketplace. Even as our Lord flew into a rage, and with a whip drove the merchants and stall keepers out of the sacred grounds, still He was faithful to Scriptures, as His actions recalled words from the book of Psalms: “Zeal for your house consumes me as fire, and those who insult you insult me as well.” (Psa 69:10)

The Jews were astonished by this sudden outburst from one they considered a ‘Rabbi’, and asked Him for a sign that authorized Him to disturb and disrupt their commerce. To this our Lord replied: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews could not believe His words, and would even use them to indict Him later before the Sanhedrin (Mt. 26:61). Incredulous, they asked, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in 3 days?” Of course they did not know that Jesus was referring to His own entombment for three days.

It is with the same zeal that our Lord has cleaned our own temples of the Holy Spirit with His own blood on the cross, and the water that flowed out of His side from a lance. It is with the same zeal that we must likewise drive away from our sacred temples all forms of impurities like lust, covetousness and pride, selfishness, anger, and avarice.

Through the ages, nothing much has changed. Man’s propensity for making a fast buck extends even on hallowed grounds. In pursuit of the mighty dollar, or the puny peso, as the case may be, nothing is sacred anymore. Everything has a price tag. Human organs, once unthinkable as commodities for commerce, are now bought and sold like highly priced pieces of meat. Blood, once considered sacred as the liquid of life is sold at commercial blood banks. The trade in white slavery, or prostitution, has become so lucrative that sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS and syphilis have become a major United Nations concern. Multi-billion dollar companies have collapsed because the very integrity of their chief executives were traded in the stock market.

The human body is a temple inviolable. Created in the image of its Maker, it was once lost to sin, but was redeemed at a price beyond reckoning. No wonder the forces of nature are wreaking havoc in the world today, (including the hurricane Yolanda) because the marketplace has gone too far. The mighty hand of the Lord is swinging the corded whip, overturning the tables, and spilling the currencies of the world.

Dear God, we ask You to forgive us for all the desecrations committed against Your holy temples, as if all the suffering and death that our Savior endured for our redemption were for nothing. Employ all our lay leaders and their communities to clean up the marketplace, applying the Gospel values of our Lord, Jesus Christ, so that by the power of Your Holy Spirit, the sanctity of Your Temple may be re-established here on earth. Amen.

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