The Temple

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Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome


John 2:13-22

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, with the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, increase my faith. Make my heart a temple for your dwelling place.


Encountering Christ:


  1. The Passover: The Passover is one of the most important festivities celebrated in the Jewish tradition. Before the existence of the Temple in Jerusalem, it was primarily celebrated in homes by the sacrifice and smearing of the blood of a lamb on the doorposts and lintels. Following the reign of the wicked King Ahaz, his son (and descendant of David) Hezekiah, at the age of twenty-five, sought a reform. He ordered the cleansing of the Temple and restoration of worship after a period of falling away from God (2 Chronicles 29-35). With this act, the Passover sacrifice became a central act in the Temple (around 715 B.C). About one hundred years later, due to the Babylonian exile, the Passover returned to being celebrated in the home, together with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. By Jesus’ time, the two were celebrated together, with the sacrifice of the lamb taking place primarily in the Temple, but also in homes due to the exorbitant number of lambs being slaughtered. Jesus “went up to Jerusalem” precisely for this feast, in anticipation of the true sacrifice of the Lamb of God and the institution of the Eucharistic—the offering of his own Body and Blood on the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
  2. My Father’s House: Jesus arrived at the Temple only to discover that his Father’s house had been turned into a marketplace. The secular had encroached upon the sacred. It is a perennial problem. Rather than sacralizing the secular, the secular dominates the primary role of the sacred due to our human tendencies toward personal gain and greed. The Temple’s central purpose, worship of God, was cast aside for social and economic gains. See Jesus’ response—righteous anger fueled by zeal for reestablishing the Father’s rightful place. He would soon be consummated in the sacrifice of himself as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The Temple represents the human heart. Jesus desires to cleanse the idols in our heart that stand at the center in place of the Father.
  3. Destroy This Temple and in Three Days I Will Build It Up: The Jews were confused by Jesus’ words, “Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up.” Herod the Great had just spent forty-six years enlarging and embellishing the Temple, creating a retaining wall over Mount Moriah, the very place of the binding of Isaac by Abraham, when God provided the sacrifice instead of allowing Abraham to sacrifice his only son. The physical building of the Temple had a tumultuous history. Upon Mount Moriah, King Solomon built the first Temple (circa 990–931 B.C.), but it was destroyed in the Babylonian exile around 587 B.C. King Cyrus, king of Persia, permitted the rebuilding in 538 B.C. Yet, it was plundered, desecrated, and finally rededicated during the Hasmonean revolt of the 2nd century B.C. Not long after Jesus’ prophecy, it would again be torn down by the Romans in the year 70 A.D. Only Jesus could restore the temple so that it could not be torn down by human hands. In his very person, the worship of God would be restored and centralized.


Conversing with Christ: Jesus, increase my faith in your presence. Grant me the grace to worship in spirit and truth and to recognize that your grace makes me a temple of the Holy Spirit. Help me also to recognize the gift of the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist where I can gather in community for true worship.


Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reflect on how I contribute to making my heart, home, and Church community places of true worship.


For Further Reflection: Does God Need Us to Worship Him? by Fr. Mike Schmitz.


Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala and Nine Days with Mary Magdalene.”

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