The call to keep God’s temple holy
3rd Sunday of Lent B (John 2:13-25)
March 4, 2018
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
FOR centuries, the Temple of Jerusalem had been the pride of all Jews, the heart of the nation, the foundation of their firm trust in God’s protection against all enemies.
Like all pious Jews, Jesus loved the Temple. In it he prayed to the Father with all the sincerity of a devoted Son. There he preached the Good News of the Kingdom. And when he saw that the “house of prayer” had been turned into a “den of thieves,” he flared up with the indignation of the Son who sees the Father’s House desecrated. (See Jn 2:15-16 and parallels.)
But the Temple, like all other religious structures and characters in the life of Israel, was only a provisional arrangement, a symbol of the reality that was to come. The real and definitive temple of God is Jesus Christ himself. He is the “New Temple”—a Temple not made of stones or by human hands, but by God Himself. His loving heart is the pure altar on which the perfect sacrifice of an unreserved filial commitment is offered unceasingly to the glory of the Father, and in atonement for the sins of all mankind.
Made one with Christ at our baptism, we also have become part of this living temple. The Holy Spirit has consecrated us to God’s service in Christ and through Christ. The sanctifying presence of the Spirit makes us more precious temples than the finest ones in the world.
But even non-baptized persons have a great dignity and sacredness of their own, for the simple reason that they, too, are created in the image and likeness of God. Though in a lesser degree than the baptized, they, too, then, are temples of God, and as such should be respected and treated well.
Like the Jews of old, however, we are continuously in danger of forgetting the sacredness of our own person, as well as of others. And from forgetfulness or lack of appreciation to profanation, there is but one step. From temples of the All-Holy God, our own persons, as well as that of others, may become shrines of false gods and idols. Our lives and/or theirs may be turned into a deadly liturgy to pride, lust, selfishness, aggressiveness, greed . . . This saddens our Lord much more than the sight of the traders and money changers he chased away from the Temple of Jerusalem.
This Lent, in our quest for a new and fuller life, we are invited to re-acquire or sharpen our awareness of the sacredness of every human being especially the baptized.
This is the time for a thorough purification from all profanations and the unbecoming presence of “idols” in our lives. This is the time for a restoration of the masterpiece of God’s love to its original splendor. This is the time for a re-dedication of ourselves to the Source of all Holiness, in order that everything that is in us may become a hymn of glory and praise to the Triune God.