Cleansing our own Temples

Cleansing our own Temples

This Sunday’s gospel (Jn 2:13-25) narrates the story of Jesus cleansing the temple. Using a whip of cords, he drove away the sellers of oxen, sheep, and doves, and overturned the tables of moneychangers. He was so angry because he found these people and activities defiling the house of the Lord.

The Jews asked him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” to which he answered, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” Of course, the Jews did not understand Jesus’ words. They knew that the temple has been under construction for 46 years, and so, for somebody to say he can rebuild it in three days was to them a big folly. What they did not know was that Jesus was referring to his own body. He was talking about his impending death, and after three days, will rise again.

The Jews were so fixated to the physical temple in Jerusalem. True, this physical temple enjoyed the indwelling presence of God, but truer is the fact that in Jesus, God himself, in his fullness, dwelt. Jesus is the better temple in whom the Holy Trinity abode.

By extension, we, who believe in Christ and obey his word, have Jesus in us, and therefore, the entire Trinity. We, too, are thus temples of God. As St. Paul, in special reference to the presence of the Holy Spirit in believers, said, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Cor 6:19).

Thus, if Jesus flared up with anger in seeing the temple in Jerusalem filled with unclean things, will he not also become furious if he sees us making our bodies dirty with sin? If he cleansed the physical temple of its filth, will he not also be willing to wash us clean of our wickedness with his own blood? God values us as his temple. He loves us so much that he is angry at our sins – sins that degrade our dignity as sons and daughters of the Almighty God.

This season of Lent, the invitation is then for us to clean our own temples – our very own selves. God tells us, “Come now, let us set things right. Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they may become white as wool. If you are willing, and obey, you shall eat the good things of the land; But if you refuse and resist, you shall be eaten by the sword: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Is 1:18-20). It is never too late to turn to God and repent for our sins. It is written, “If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing” (1 Jn 1:9).

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