Third Sunday of Lent in Year B

Posté par diaconos le 7 mars 2021

Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up

Третье воскресенье Великого поста в году Б dans Bible 479d68c7cbf36aed2c7824cc445838db

Jesus drove the merchants out of the Temple

# The Second Temple in Jerusalem is a temple rebuilt on the foundations of the First Temple, known as Solomon’s Temple, which was destroyed and looted during the siege of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Construction of the Second Temple began after the Jews’ captivity in Babylon, during the Persian period under the governor Zerubbabel. In 538 BC, Zerubbabel began building the Jerusalem Temple. The Temple of Zerubbabel was completed in 417 BC under Darius II. It was then extensively rebuilt and enlarged under Herod I from 20 BC.

Because of the massive expansion of Herod’s place of worship, it is sometimes called the Temple of Herod. The Second Temple became the cultural and spiritual centre of Judaism and the site of the ritual sacrifices, the korbanot, until its destruction by the Romans in 70 AD at the end of the First Jewish-Roman War. According to Jewish tradition, both temples were destroyed on the same day, the 9th of Av according to the Jewish calendar. The retaining wall of the temple façade has been preserved: The  » Wailing Wall  » is a fragment of it. The essential elements described in the first temple could not be replaced.

# The cleansing of the Temple narrative tells of Jesus expelling the merchants and the money changers from the Temple, and occurs in all four canonical gospels of the New Testament. The scene is a common motif in Christian art. In this account, Jesus and his disciples travel to Jerusalem for Passover, where Jesus expels the merchants and consumers from the Temple, accusing them of turning the Temple into « a den of thieves » (in the Synoptic Gospels) and « a house of trade » (in Gospel of John) through their commercial activities.

The narrative occurs near the end of the Synoptic Gospels (at Matthew 21:12–17, Mark 11:15–19, and Luke 19:45–48) and near the start in the Gospel of John (at John 2:13–16). Some scholars believe that these refer to two separate incidents, given that the Gospel of John also includes more than one Passover. According to the apocryphal Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea, Demas, one of the two robbers who were crucified with Christ, stole the ‘secret deposit’ of Solomon from the Holy of Holies, an act which Judas blamed on Christ : He made attacks upon the rich, but was good to the poor…And he set his hand to robbing the multitude of the Jews, and stole the law itself in Jerusalem, …

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From the Gospel of Jesus Christ, according to St. John

When the Jewish Passover was approaching, Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the temple he found traders of cattle, sheep and doves, as well as traders of money. He made a whip with cords and drove them all out of the temple, along with the sheep and oxen, and threw the money-changers to the ground, overturning their counters, and said to the traders in doves,  » Take this away.

Do not make my father’s house a house of commerce.   » His disciples remembered that it is written :  » The love of your house will be my torment.  » Some of the Jews asked him :  » What sign can you give us for this ? Jesus answered them :  » Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up. « 

The Jews replied : « It took forty-six years to build this sanctuary, and you will build it in three days !  » But he spoke of the sanctuary of his body.  » When He rose from the dead, the disciples remembered that He had said this, and they believed the Scriptures and the word spoken by Jesus.

When He was in Jerusalem for the Passover, many believed in His name because they had seen His signs. But Jesus did not trust them, for He knew them all and did not need the testimony of men, for He Himself knew what was in man. (John 2, 13-25)

God gives himself freely !

 After Jesus had performed his first miracle at Cana in Galilee, he went to Jerusalem and entered the temple to pray and proclaim the good news he had come to bring to earth. But how amazed he was when he saw that the temple of God, his temple, was filled with merchants and traders of all kinds !

God in the person of Jesus comes to his house, and what does he find there ? Are the people praying ? Are the Levites doing their duty ? No, they are not !  But many merchants, smugglers, people who seem to care about only one thing : collecting money for their life on earth, instead of praying for the Father to receive them into his dwelling place in heaven ! We would say that the world is turned upside down !

He made a whip with ropes and drove them all out of the temple, along with their sheep and oxen ; he threw the money of the moneychangers on the ground, overturned their notes and said to the dove merchants :  » Take them away. Do not make my Father’s house a house of cork.  « (John 2, 15-16).

It would be an avoidable mistake to think that Jesus, by driving the merchants out of the temple, shows a cruel contempt for commerce and merchants. Christ’s resolution (he had to find the ropes, make the whip, which takes time) means something quite different : it is the whole temple cult, the whole religion, that has become a trade, a negotiation, a story of  » giving, giving « . And this is what Jesus is fighting against violence.

People came to the temple to offer sacrifices. The rich, for example, offered an ox, a bullock; the less well-off offered a lamb, and the poor offered a few doves. But these sacrifices were gestures of self-interest: some gave in order to receive. Some hoped that through this sacrifice they would receive God’s help in this or that area, for health or for some other request.

Are we any further than that ? I am not so sure ! In fact, we often think that we have to earn something and that God does not give anything for free! Jesus came to reveal something essential to us: God gives freely. He even gives for free, without any merit on our part. We must move from a religion of « give, give » to a religion of welcoming grace, welcoming the free gift of God.

The great certainty of the whole Bible is that God wants man to be happy and He gives him the means to do so, a very simple means : it is enough to heed the Word of God written in the Law and to live by it (First Reading). The path is marked, the commandments are like signs along the way to warn our eyes of possible dangers :  » The commandment of the Lord is clear, it makes us clear  » (Psalm 18). (Psalm 18).

Faith lives in relationship with God, for the resurrection, finally where two or three are gathered in the name of Christ, we rediscover that we cannot control, negotiate or buy the things that make our lives meaningful. Our faith must live in surrender and total trust in God.

Deacon Michel Houyoux

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Links to other Christian websites

◊ Missionary society of st Paul : click here to read the paper → Sunday Reflection: 3rd Sunday in Lent -yeae B

◊  BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas : click here to read the paper → Third Sunday in Lent – Year B

   Father Valan Arockiaswamy

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