DEDICATION OF THE LATERAN BASILICA
Thursday 9 November 2023
“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”.
There’s no doubt that the episode when Jesus casts the money changers out of the Temple, presents an unexpected image of Him, very different from the more common image of Him overflowing with goodness, gentleness, kindness, composure… And yet it is still the same Jesus: good but no walk-over, meek and humble but who doesn’t allow Himself to be bought. And He definitely doesn’t allow people to buy the Father’s favour. It is a side of Jesus that knows our intentions and unmasks them openly, without talking behind people’s backs. It’s a Jesus as Shepherd (as Pastor) that doesn’t allow those of His flock to be guided by their desires and sentiments, which unfortunately happens so often.
The presence of market sellers selling animals for sacrifice and money changers in the Temple area was justified, but Jesus (knowing the intentions of their heart) proclaims: “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”. Don’t let yourself be deceived by the idea that we can bargain with the God of Israel, just because He is good… Whatever He calls sin is sin, even if society no longer counts it as one. He doesn’t change His mind!
Jesus then prophesies about His body: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”. When this is actually evidenced, in His resurrection, the disciples remember this prophecy and believe in the scripture. So, the prophecy isn’t aimed so much at predicting the future, but more at discerning the present!
The event of the sellers’ expulsion from the Temple not only reminds us that Jesus is the Temple, but that each of us is a temple of the Holy Spirit, by virtue of purification by Jesus. As Paul reinforces in his First Letter to the Corinthians: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16).