Sunday, March 19, 2006

Jn 2:13-19

"Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me. At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”" (Jn 2:13-19)

There is a French expression that means "a pot to full to pick from". It refers to having an overabundance of choices that you hardly know how to pick at all. There are many passages like that in Scripture, and today's is certainly one of them.

First of all, we see Christ's intimate relationship with His Father which is so great that Christ will go to battle for Him. He actually takes a whip and ravages the headquarters of some scandalous goings-on. The Jews, sadly, had lost a lot of what their faith was. It turned into a business, and the very laws of God were dismissed for a more convenient lifestyle. Sound familiar?

Sadly, this happened in the history of the Church, specifically in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. But since Christ told the rock of the Church that Hell would not prevail, these abuses were put down directly. That is what Christ does in this Gospel reading, that is what happened when the Church went astray, and that is what we are called to do today. Christ goes to battle for His Father, let's go to battle for Christ.

Instead of whips, daggers, swords, and shields, we have the truth of Christ as our weapon. We will absolutely lose sometimes. Indeed, it may be beneficial to have the apologetics crap beaten out of you once or twice, but if we persevere with trust in God to show us how, we will lead souls back to Jesus Christ and His fold. "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one".

But also, in the Gospel today, we hear one of the most symbolic things Christ ever spoke. “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews were being very shallow and thought He meant the temple of Jerusalem. But as we hear, he meant the temple of His body. Christ prophecies his own death and resurrection and in doing so, tells of our redemption. Because it is only through the blood of Christ that we can now hope to attain Heaven.

Christ's body is the most glorious temple that ever walked the earth. Better than the Ark of the Covenant God commanded the Jews to build, and better than the new Ark of the Covenant that is Jesus' most Holy Mother. Yet for all that, it will be destroyed. Not only destroyed, but in the most humiliating manners possible. But on the way to Calvary, as the temple of His body is being destroyed slowly, Christ meets the women of Jerusalem but tells them not to weep for Him but for themselves. Why is that?

Because Christ sees the future coming. He knows that when His body would be destroyed, and His blood, the only acceptable sacrifice to re-open Heaven was shed, it would be show time for the devil. Jesus' body was going to be destroyed, but He Himself knew that it would be risen up again. The devil will seek to come after us and destroy our temple, but if we choose to go down that path and die in that state, we will not be risen up. This is our chance. NOW is the day of salvation.

This is one of the reasons Christ comes to us in the Eucharist. His body has been destroyed and then raised again, and He has ascended into Heaven. But He, desiring to be with us still, has left us a Church to proclaim His glory and the most Holy Sacrament for that Church to administer.

Satan will always trip us up. It will always happen, plain and simple. But Christ has also left us another holy Sacrament: the Sacrament of Confession. When we fall, we get back up again through receiving Christ forgiveness which is unending if we truly do all that we must to desire it. Through this sacrament, our temples our cleansed of the sin. They are cleansed of the illnesses symbolized by the moneychangers and grace is restored in its place. When the temple is cleansed through the Penance, we receive Jesus Christ in a worthy state and when we do that, we become temples of the Holy of Holies, and there is no great joy, nor is there anything Satan hates more.

So this Lenten season, let's be more aware of this awesome reality that Christ wills for us. Trip, get back up again, and then return to Christ in the most real way.