God spoke these words and said, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:1
Lord our God,
by your Holy Spirit
write your commandments upon our hearts
and grant us the wisdom and power of the cross,
so that, cleansed from greed and selfishness,
we may become a living temple of your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
- Exodus 20:1-17
- Psalm 19
- 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
- John 2:13-22
- Numbers 21:4-9
- Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
- Ephesians 2:1-10
- John 3:14-21
A Thought to Ponder
Lent 3 John 2:13-22
Jesus made a whip out of cords and drove the money changers out of the temple area and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. “Take these out of here and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
The temple is the focus of today’s Gospel. Whereas the Synoptic Gospels place Jesus’ cleansing of the temple immediately after his Palm Sunday entrance into Jerusalem, John places the event early in his Gospel, following Jesus’ first sign at Cana. While the Synoptics recount only one climactic journey to Jerusalem, the Jesus of John’s Gospel makes several trips to the holy city.
Pilgrims to the temple were expected to make a donation for the maintenance of the edifice. Because Roman currency was considered “unclean,” Jewish visitors had to change their money into Jewish currency before making their temple gift. Moneychangers, whose tables lined the outer courts of the temple, charged exorbitant fees for their service.
Visiting worshipers who wished to have a sacrifice offered on the temple altar would sometimes have to pay 15 to 20 times the market rate for animals purchased inside the temple. Vendors could count on the cooperation of the official temple “inspectors” who, as a matter of course, would reject animals brought in from outside the temple as “unclean” or “imperfect.”
Jesus’ angry toppling of the vendors’ booths and tables is a condemnation of the injustice and exploitation of the faithful in the name of God. So empty and meaningless has their worship become that God will establish a new “temple” in the resurrected body of the Christ.
Of course, the leaders and people do not appreciate the deeper meaning of Jesus’ words, nor did the people who witnessed his miracles understand the true nature of his Messianic mission. John’s closing observations in this reading point to the fact that the full meaning of many of Jesus’ words and acts were understood only later, in the light of his resurrection.
In the temple precincts of our lives are “money changers” and connivers – fear, ambition, addictions, selfishness, prejudice – that distort the meaning of our lives and debase our relationships with God and with one another.
Lent is a time to invite the “angry” Jesus of today’s Gospel into our lives to drive out those things that make our lives less than what God created them to be. To raise one’s voice against injustice, to stand up before the powerful on behalf of the weak, to demand accountability of those who exploit and abuse others for their own gain is to imitate the “holy” anger of Christ.
The late winter yearning for the newness, freshness, warmth and light of spring in the northern hemisphere mirrors Jesus’ angry expulsion of the merchants from the temple. Christ comes to bring newness to humankind, to bring a springtime of hope to a people who have lived too long in a winter of alienation and despair.
You can read the Pew Sheet hereLent-3-B