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Friday, March 9, 2012

THE TEMPLE



 3RD SUNDAY OF LENT – B


Humanity since the beginning of time has been worshiping God in many ways and many forms.  Worship gave birth to rituals as expressions of man to communicate with the Divine mostly in the form of sacrifice.  Man’s longing to divinize himself gave birth to world religions.  In most of these religions, both ancient and contemporary, offering of blood is the highest form of worship, usually done in temples.  Judaism is no exception to this and so with Christianity today, although in a different manner.
The Temple of Jerusalem was built on 20 BC by Herod the Great and still unfinished after 46 years of construction during the time of Jesus. Being the third temple to be constructed, it was one of the wonders of the ancient world, in fact considered an architectural feat during that time.  It was constructed to simulate the heavenly sanctuary on earth and it houses the most important artifact of Judaism which was the two tables of the Ten commandments inside a gilded wooden box called the Ark of the Covenant.  The innermost chamber of the temple was the Holy of Holies which enshrined the Ark of the Covenant considered  the most sacred for the Jews.  For them, it was heaven on earth.
Once a year the Jews would celebrate the Passover to commemorate their salvific event of the Exodus and they do this by offering a sacrifice.  Since the sacrifice was offered only in the temple during the Passover, it was customary for the Jews to make a pilgrimage to the temple especially those who were living within the radius of 20 miles from Jerusalem.  The offering consisted of two shekels (equivalent of two-day salary) and burnt animals.  Since the commerce was done inside the temple, the people had to change their money into temple shekels which was the reason of the presence of money changers in the temple.  It was also customary for those who live far to buy the animals at the temple.  To change the money into the temple shekel for the offering and to buy the animals in the temple was an opportunity for extortion by the temple priests most especially against the poor.  This is the injustice that we need to see in the story aside from turning the temple into an oriental bazaar with all the noise, stinking animals and all the rubbish.
When Jesus saw all these happening in His Father’s house, he was at the height of his anger.  He was angry not just because of the desecration of the physical temple turned into a marketplace  but most especially the injustice committed against the poor by using the temple as a front for economic sabotage in the guise of religion and worship. 
This incident was not just “the cleansing of the temple” but rather the replacement of the temple.  Jesus proclaimed the new and definitive temple:  His body.  It would be destroyed through death but would be raised up on the third day to give rise to the new temple which is His Mystical Body, the Church.  The Jerusalem Temple, made by human hands, was razed down to the ground in 70AD.  Nothing remained except the western wall that used to enclose the temple; it is now called the Wailing Wall because Jews would go there to pray and wail for the loss of their beloved temple.
St. Paul reminds us “… your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you… therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).   Being members of the Mystical Body of Christ, each one of us is a living temple of God, as St. Paul said “bought with a price.”  Therefore any injustice we do against our body and against our brothers and sisters is desecrating the “holy of holies” in us and every time we do this, the Spirit groans in pain with us.  In a sense, our body is a tabernacle of the “holy of holies” that contains the most sacred and precious thing on earth: the Divine within us!

Please visit my poetography blog for a visual commentary: 
http://frvladpoetographer.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/temple.html

2 comments:

  1. Lollie R. MercadoMarch 9, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    So we really need to take care of our bodies and nourish it always with the Divine Word, keep it sacred until me meet our Savior.

    ReplyDelete
  2. ...it is the temple of the the Divine within us!

    ReplyDelete