This Sunday Jesus talked about the temple.
Few things were closer to the heart of their faith than the temple of Jerusalem . It was here that the people of Israel came to worship God. Here they came on pilgrimage to offer their sacrifices to God. it was God’s house, a reflection of his heavenly throne. It was here that they learned of God’s faithfulness to his people. Every time it was destroyed it had been rebuilt. A testimony of their unique relationship with God throughout the ages.
How dare Jesus drive out all the animals to be offered in sacrifice! How dare he chase out the money changers ! Without the animals, without the money changers they cannot offer their sacrifices to God. He has brought the temple activity to a halt.
” Why!” they cry, ” Does he mean to tell us we no longer have need of the temple? If we do not have the temple how are we offer our sacrifices to God? How will we know God is still with us? How can Jesus do this? What gives him the authority to tell us the temple has fulfilled its purpose? What gives him the authority to tell us we do not need it anymore? Give us a sign” ” Destroy the temple,” Jesus replies, ” and in three days I will raise it up.”
Alas, they still misunderstood. The temple had been such an important part of their lives for so long that they could not imagine their relationship with God without it. The truth if they had understood, was that God had a new temple for them. One that was much more personal and reflective of his glory. One which enabled them to share not in a reflection of his kingdom, but to actually a part of it. That new temple, the new covenant but was standing right in front of them. The temple that would be raised in three days was Jesus.
The respond of the Jews in today’s Gospel passage is not difficult to understand. Jesus was asking them to make a radical change in their faith and their way of life. He as inviting them to recognize him as the Son of God. To make him the center of their lives.
That same invitation is extended to us. particularly during this Lenten Season. We are invited to set aside all the ” false temples” we may have in our lives. Set aside those things into which we put time and energy but which draw us no closer to God. We are invited to recognize Jesus as the true ‘temple” of God.
In Jesus we find a perfect image of God, for he is God. In Jesus we find the perfect sacrifice and the perfect priest. As we offer ourselves to him we come to share in that sacrifice and priesthood,. We, too, become a reflection of God, we become holy.
The Jews off Today’s Gospel found it hard to let go of what had been a central part of their lives even though they were being offered an even greater gift. Their reluctance reminds us that it is not easy to let go of that which we have held on to for so long. Yet, that is what Jesus invites us to do. To recognize the temple in our lives which do not lead us to God. To let go of them and to do all to come to Jesus as the true temple of God.
May God bless you all
your brother in Christ