A new temple
The four evangelists recall Jesus’ provocative gesture of expelling from the temple sellers of animals and the money changers. He cannot bear seeing his Father’s house filled with people who make their living from religion. One cannot buy God with “sacrifices.”
But John, the last evangelist, adds a dialogue with the Jews in which Jesus solemnly affirms that after the temple is destroyed, he will raise it up in three days. No one can understand what he says. That is why the evangelist adds: But he was speaking about the Temple of his body.
Let us not forget that John is writing his gospel when the temple of Jerusalem has already been destroyed for twenty or thirty years. Many Jews feel like orphans. The temple was the heart of their religion. How could they survive without God’s presence in their midst?
The evangelist reminds Jesus’ followers that they should not feel nostalgia for the old temple. Jesus, “destroyed” by the religious authorities but “raised up” by the Father, is the new temple. This is not a daring metaphor. It is a reality that must forever mark the relationship of Christians with God.
For those who see in Jesus the new temple where God dwells, everything is different. In order to meet God, entering a Church is not enough. One needs to draw close to Jesus, go into his project, follow his steps, live with his spirit.
In this new temple that is Jesus, incense, acclamations, or solemn liturgies are not enough for one to worship God. The true worshipers are those who live before God “in spirit and in truth.” True worship consists in living with the “Spirit” of Jesus in the “Truth” of the Gospel. Without this, religion is “empty worship.”
The doors of this new temple that is Jesus are open to all. The sinners, the unclean, even the pagans, can enter. The God who dwells in Jesus is everybody’s and for everybody. No discrimination of any kind is practiced in this temple. There are no separate spaces for men and for women. In Christ now “there is not male and female.” There are neither chosen races nor excluded peoples. The only ones who are preferred are those in need of love and life. We need churches and temples in order to celebrate Jesus as Lord, but he is our true temple.
March 8, 2015
3 Lent (B)
John 2, 13-25