Homily for the third Sunday of Lent

Year B - Jn. 2:13-25


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, 'Take these things away; you shall not make my Father's house a house of trade.' His disciples remembered that it was written, 'Zeal for thy house will consume me.' (Ps. 68:10)


"The Jews then said to him, 'What sign have you to show us for doing this?' Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' The Jews then said, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?' But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.


"Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did; but Jesus did not trust himself to them, because he knew all men and needed no one to bear witness of man ; for he himself knew what was in man."





Homily:


"The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple ; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, 'Take these things away; you shall not make my Father's house a house of trade.' His disciples remembered that it was written, 'Zeal for thy house will consume me.' (Ps. 68:10)"


Jesus drives the merchants out of the Temple: a well-known episode in the life of the Lord! In accordance with Christ's own will, this cleansing has a double significance: both natural and supernatural. The natural significance relates to the material Temple, the brand new edifice that had just been rebuilt. The supernatural significance is of a mystical nature: it relates to the mystical Body of Christ, the true Temple of God, vivified by the Spirit, the "living stone" (1 P. 2:4) for the glory of the Father. This second significance is certainly the most important, the one of which Jesus speaks when he says that the Temple is "my Father's house" (Jn. 2:16). This is what Saint John notes, saying that Jesus "spoke of the temple of his body." (Jn. 2:21).


Jesus was absolutely right to drive the merchants out of the Temple. One shouldn't transform the House of God into a "house of trade"! But it was more important for him to stress the spiritual Temple, the Temple of the Spirit which is his Mystical Body. It is especially necessary to drive away from this Temple the merchants and money-changers! For, all of us, at one time or another, have transformed our own body, not into a Temple of the Spirit, but rather into a "house of trade"! Let us look at our past: how many times have we offended God by preferring to him such and such a creature? How many times have we preferred our own excellence to that of God? And what of sins of pride, jealousy, covetousness, and concupiscence! Not to mention all the sins with which we transformed our own body into a filthy cesspool: impure desires, lustful glances, masturbation, adultery, contraception, abortion, and so on...


Our body is the temple of the Spirit! What a marvel! And especially, what a Mystery! Let us make sure we drive all the merchants and money-changers out of it! Let us humbly ask God for the grace of protecting our body against all the dangers which lie in wait for it! Let us keep watch over our body: it must be subjugated to the soul and be spiritualized by it. If we do this, each and every one of us will be taking care of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church. The holier our body is, the more powerful the Church is and the more she is strengthened by the Spirit of God. Saint Joan of Arc said that it is mortal sin that causes battles to be lost. If this is true of combat against men, how much more so in the case of the combat of faith against the forces of the Evil!


"The Jews then said to him, 'What sign have you to show us for doing this?' Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' The Jews then said, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?' But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken."


The time came when Christ died and was then resurrected, thus proving to all, and first of all to his disciples, in a definitive manner, that he had truly been sent by God, and that he himself was God. At that time, men firmly believed, in an absolute manner and without any doubt, that the Messiah of God had come into their midst. The time will also come, and it is undoubtedly near, when the Mystical Body of Christ (the Church) will seem to be dead, but it will then appear resurrected, similarly proving to all, in a clear way, that the Messiah who had already come would soon return. If Jesus gave a clear sign to convince his disciples of his first coming, without any doubt he will give the world another sign, similar to the first, to convince those who believe in him that his return will come soon.


Perhaps all this seems incredible? Let us admit it. But did the Jews, not only simple people, but especially the great dignitaries, and among them, the High Priest himself, believe what Jesus said? Rebuilding the Temple in three days! What a joke! What could be more ludicrous or far-fetched? No, really, it was too much! The Jews could not contain their laughter! And yet... Jesus resurrected, only three days after his death! The moral of this story: "He who laughs last, laughs best!"


"Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did; but Jesus did not trust himself to them, because he knew all men and needed no one to bear witness of man ; for he himself knew what was in man."


Jesus, who is God, knows what is in man! God created our soul at the moment of our conception in our mother's womb: he knows all its nooks and crannies, nothing escapes him. It is very beautiful, it is magnificent! We live at all times under God's watchful eye! So Jesus knows in whom he can have confidence. Knowing all our intentions, he speaks to us through his angels in order to guide us along the path of salvation. If we ever make a wrong turn, he tells us so, one way or another. It is up to us to be attentive to the breath of the Spirit!


May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary help us to live as true adoptive sons of God, putting our body at the service of the whole Church, so that the holiness of one may be shared by all!