March 7, 2021: Third Sunday of Lent
Gospel Reading: John 2:13-25
Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me. At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?”
But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.
While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.
It’s only human to be angered when seeing something special or valuable, something we love and treasure, being misused or abused. Jesus’ response to discovering the temple area turned into a commercial marketplace is a reaction from his human nature but the way in which he reacts is almost startling. This is his Father’s house, a place not to be profaned, especially not for profit.
Things done under the umbrella of religion and faith should be done for good and not for gain. By putting a stop to what he discovered in the temple area, Jesus angered the religious and political leaders who already considered him dangerous. When they challenge him, Jesus tells them to destroy the temple and in three days he will raise it up. At this time, no one understands that Jesus is speaking not of a building but of his body, foretelling his death and resurrection. Though they don’t understand what he has said, the disciples will remember and understand when Jesus is raised from the dead.
Sometimes, our religious activities or our prayers can have a “hook.” We look for a reward or for something in return when we should remember to do good things simply because they are good and pray to God just to spend time with God. This week, consciously pray in gratitude and love.
If you do pray for something, let those prayers be for something for someone else. There is always need in the world of prayers for others. Let your only reward be a closer relationship with our loving and merciful God. That is the greatest reward of all.