Homily for the third Sunday of Lent - Year B - Jn. 2:13-25
Canon Dr. 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. "
" 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. "
After he performed his first miracle at Cana in Galilee, Jesus made his way to Jerusalem and went up to the Temple to pray and to preach the Good News that He had come to bring to the earth. How surprised he must have been to see the Temple of God, his Temple, filled with merchants and traffickers of every kind! God, in the person of Jesus, enters his own home, and what does he find there? People in prayer? Levites carrying out their ministry? No! Rather, he sees merchants, traffickers, people who seem interested in only one thing: amassing money for their life on earth, instead of praying in order that the Father might welcome them into his Heavenly abode! It seems like an upside down world, does it not?
" 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 drove the sellers out of the Temple. This simple act, accompanied by Jesus' words to the merchants and the traffickers, is enough for the disciples of Jesus to remember this passage from the psalm: "Zeal for thy house will consume me!" Thy house: this expression is the symbol for all of the reality of creation itself. A house is that place where we want to be, where we like to eat our meals, regain our strength through sleep, spend enjoyable moments with our family and friends; it is the place par excellence where all the intimate and private events of our life take place. In particular, the house of God is that privileged place where we can meet with God, one on one, without fear of disturbing him.
Why does God need to have a house? Is God not pure Spirit? Is he not present everywhere, in Heaven, on earth, and in every other place? Yes, this is true! But God has always wanted his Son to take on flesh, He has always ardently wanted to become one of us in order that we might become like Him, through filial adoption in Christ, the Word of God made flesh. It was as if, through the Incarnation of the Word, God had built himself a house in order to welcome us into Him, into the Body of his beloved Son. In this house of God, in the humanity of the Son of God, we can live in God in order to enjoy his presence and participate in his eternal beatitude. The house of God, his home among men, is first and foremost the body of his Son.
" 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. "
The body of Christ is the true house of God, that which will last forever, eternally! But then, the Eucharist is also, for us, the house of God in which we can live if we want to do so, if we are attentive to the presence of God in this sacrament. Did Jesus not say: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him" (Jn. 6:56)? Let us pay close attention to this word of the Lord: in holy communion, it is no longer Jesus alone who is the house of God, but instead, if we are worthy of it, we too become the house of God among men! What an admirable mystery! What an admirable exchange between God and man in the sacrament of love and peace!
" You are the body of Christ. " (1 Cor. 12:27)
Saint Paul tells us: "You are the body of Christ." If Jesus lives in us and we in him, then we are his body, we are his temple. God then lives in us, and all those who want to can bear this presence of God everywhere in the world, manifesting the omnipotence of He who is the Creator of all things. If we wish it, God who lives in us can be communicated to the entire world! All that is necessary is that we ask for this, with all our heart, with a profound and sincere faith, like that of the Virgin Mary.
God, who lives in us as in his own house, can perform miracles, in us and through us, beyond anything we could imagine! Let us think of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus, who bore God's presence in her, and who was declared the patroness of all missions, even though she had never left her cloister of Lisieux! If we truly believe, God will make us into apostles who, without leaving our humble workplace, will go throughout the world bearing the presence of God that is so necessary for peace in the world and the salvation of souls!
Let us prepare ourselves for the holy communion we will receive during this Sunday Eucharist, let us not miss our opportunity: let us offer to God a home worthy of Him, without any traffickers or merchants to pollute it. Like Mary who kept the Word of God in her heart as well as in her home, let us welcome the Lord with a pure heart, free of any attachment to creatures, entirely devoted to the things of God, the Father of us all and in us all!