Vol: 42, No.19 3RD SUNDAY OF LENT ( B) March 08 2015  
 
LITURGY AND LIFE

The Temple of Jerusalem was the centre of Jewish piety. The first temple was built by Solomon that was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. A modest temple was built after the people returned from exile around 515 B.C. But the Temple that Jesus frequented was re-built by Herod the Great who began the construction in 20-19 B.C. and was not in fact finished until 63 A.D., though the main work may have been completed by 27 A.D. which was the reason why the Jews said that it had taken forty-six years to build the Temple. This Herodian Temple built in white stones and embellished with white marbles was a beautiful edifice and to the pilgrims who came to Jerusalem for the celebration of the major festivals it appeared like a snow-clad mountain.
The Synoptic Gospels place Jesus’ purification of the Temple at the end of his ministry where as the Gospel of John places it at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. It is to be remembered that according to the Synoptic Gospels Jesus made only one Journey to Jerusalem which ended in his death whereas John’s Gospel has Jesus going to Jerusalem on many occasions especially during the major feasts. The Synoptic Gospels could not have placed the cleansing of the Temple at the beginning of the Gospels because according to them Jesus never went to Jerusalem after he began his ministry. But evangelist John has the opportunity to place the event at the beginning of the Gospel because Jesus made several trips to Jerusalem. But still the scholarly opinion is that the cleansing might have taken place towards the end of Jesus’ ministry because it was an audacious act in the eyes of the opponents who would not have let Jesus free for such a long time.
The cleansing of the Temple by Jesus was a protest like that of the prophets of old against the profanation of God’s house and a sign that the messianic purification of the Temple was at hand.
Jeremiah, whom Jesus resembled in

 
many ways, had warned the priests of his time that the Temple had become a den of thieves (Jer 7:11). He prophesied that God would destroy the Jerusalem sanctuary even as he had destroyed the one in Shiloh. Thus, an action by Jesus of purifying the Temple area by correcting abuses would have been perfectly understandable in the light of the claim that he was a prophet and the Messiah. Jesus discovered merchants in the Temple area who were selling the oxen, sheep, and pigeons necessary for the Temple cult. They were also changing Roman money into Temple money so that people might pay the Temple tax with coins not bearing the Emperor’s image. Jesus drove these out.
It is understandable that such an act by Jesus would be questioned by the authorities. And the conversation that ensued plays out on the usual Johannine technique of misunderstanding. The Jews ask for a sign to prove Jesus’ authority in doing the cleansing, and Jesus answers them by saying, “destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up”. The Jews understand the words of Jesus literally and think of the impossibility of building another one in just three days because the Temple has taken forty-six years to build. But Jesus is speaking about his impending death and resurrection. Jesus has no intention to destroy the Temple of Jerusalem. But the Jews taking it in real terms will bring this charge before the Sanhedrin using false witnesses.
The words of Jesus to “the Jews” have indicated that he has authority to raise up “the Temple” after three days. The narrator explains that the Temple that will be destroyed and raised up after three days is not the Temple made of stone, but the sanctuary of his body. At a time when there is no longer a Temple in Jerusalem, the believing readers of John’s Gospel will experience the presence of the crucified yet risen Jesus as their “Temple”.
– AK
March 2015 READINGS OF THE WEEK Psalter Week 3
09 Mon (V) 2 Kgs 5:1-15/ Ps 42:2-3; 43:3-4/ Lk 4:24-30
10 Tue V) Dan 3:25,34-43/ Ps 25:4-9/ Mt 18:21-35
11 Wed (V) Deut 4:1,5-9/ Ps 147:12-13,15-16,19-20/ Mt 5:17-19
12 Thu

(V)

Jer 7:23-28/ Ps 95:1-2,6-7,8-9/ Lk 11:14-23
13 Fri (V) Hos 14:2-10/ Ps 81:6,8-11,14,17/ Mk 12:28-34
14 Sat (V) Hos 6:1-6/ Ps 51:3-4,18-21/ Lk 18:9-14
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2015-03-09
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