The New Temple

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Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome


John 2:13-22

Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me. At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his Body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.


Opening Prayer:  Dear Lord Jesus, I desire to hear your word with an open heart and mind. May it bear the fruit in my soul that you desire. Please increase my faith to see with your eyes, my charity to love with your heart, and my hope to await your action with confidence. 


Encountering Christ:


  1. Zeal for the Temple: Throughout his life Jesus displayed a singular connection with and love for the temple. Shortly after his birth, Mary and Joseph presented him in the temple, when, moved by the Spirit, Simeon and Anna prophesied about the child (Luke 2:22-38). Jesus would go annually to the temple with his parents for Passover, and when he was twelve, he remained there three days without his parents’ knowledge to show that he must “be about his Father’s business” (CCC 583). During his public ministry, and especially leading up to his Passion, some of his more significant encounters and discourses were in the temple—such as his defense of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), his “light of the world” discourse (John 8:12), and his healing of the blind man (John 9:1-41). However, most dramatic was when Jesus drove out the money-changers, the animals, and their handlers from the temple with a whip. “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” He would never cease to defend the honor of his Father’s house with zeal.
  2. Worship in Spirit and Truth: While his love for the temple was clear, in his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well Jesus also said, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father… But… when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him” (John 4:21-23). In this way Jesus not only prophesied about the destruction of the temple but showed that the worship of God would no longer be limited to a particular location. He was teaching that it would be more important to worship united to God in spirit and in truth. Are our parishes and churches therefore irrelevant? No, they remain crucial as places of gathering for the Eucharistic celebration. Jesus is simply emphasizing that our encounter with God must also resonate within our interior—both in church and outside of it.
  3. The Temple of His Body: “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.’” The temple of the old covenant has been superseded by the new—the Body of Christ. If the presence of God was real in the temple of Jerusalem, how much more so in the Incarnation of his eternal Son. “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). However, this new temple extends not simply to Jesus’ risen Body, but by extension to his Church: “Christ ‘is the head of the body, the Church… Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person” (CCC 792, 795). It is hard to fathom the degree to which we are called to union with Our Lord in the Church: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love” (John 15:9).


Conversing with Christ:  Jesus, I believe that the deepest desire of my heart is to be known and loved for who I am. I marvel at how your gift of a profound unity with you in your mystical body the Church responds to that desire. Help me to live such a union with you and my fellow believers conscientiously and generously. Help me to have the same zeal for your Church that you showed for your Father’s house. May I continue to defend and promote the Church by my words and actions.


Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will say a prayer for the Church, and if possible, make a brief visit to you in the tabernacle.

For Further Reflection:  Read Mystical Body of the Church, an excerpt from the Catholic Encyclopedia.


Written by Father John Bullock, LC.

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