Jesus in the temple of our hearts
In today’s gospel passage we see Jesus visibly distressed by the activities of the money changers who inappropriately conduct their business inside the temple. He makes a whip, forcibly drives them out and knocks over their tables scattering all the coins.
This is probably the only account ever recorded, where we see this side of Jesus’ personality. This event left an indelible impression on His disciples and countless generations who would read about it thereafter. In fact, everyone attempted to understand Jesus’ passionate response—from the surrounding Jewish onlookers, to Jesus’ disciples, and even ourselves today.
John’s gospel provides us with the most sublime interpretation and explanation for Jesus’ actions. John does this by using the very Psalm Jesus quoted on a previous occasion – “Zeal for your house will devour me!” (Ps69:9).
This gospel passage and the entire Johannine text that follows, highlight the significant fact that everything Jesus does is always interpreted and explained in light of the cross on Calvary. And this is primarily because Jesus is consumed by charity.
All His motives, His actions, His reason and will, are directed and moved by pure love; a love that He shares in union with the Father and a love that He offers freely with His very life for the salvation of our souls.
As we continue our faith journey this Lent, we are invited to ask ourselves two fundamental questions. Who or what consumes our lives? Are our motives rooted in pure love of God and our fellowmen?
Jesus implored the people to clean up their act and to “stop turning his Father’s house into a market”. He did this because He recognised how often humanity takes the sacred and makes it profane through acts of selfishness, lust, hatred, greed and indifference.
We human beings are guilty of taking the most sacred spaces gifted to us by God—the temple of our mind, heart and soul—abusing these spaces, creating destructive markets of all types. These markets start small and they grow whenever we choose ourselves before God and our neighbour.
Whenever we are consumed with self-love, we develop these markets helping them to evolve and expand, before becoming entrenched in our societies. Let us reflect on our political systems, economic systems, education systems and health care systems that often lack charity and have no true connection to God. These markets could never bring forth life—only death!
We must admit that zeal for our own markets do nothing but exploit and deny the truth of the human person who is essentially good, beautiful and sacred, much like the temple.
The human person is sacred because the Holy Spirit dwells within. Let us never forget that God has chosen to write His name, and plant His Eternal Law on our hearts. Therefore, why do we insist on living in houses of slavery when God has graced us with beautiful temples?
He has gifted us with a mind to know Him, a body to serve Him and heart to love Him in return. And to help us along the way, He has given us His commandments—His Divine Law, so that we may be in communion with Him and with each other as the first reading indicates.
When we erect our own markets, buying and selling various vices that consume our time, talent and treasure, we break the communion with Him and with each other and instead we become slaves to absurd ideologies, violent cultures and inordinate desires, until they devour us all.
And from this we could never free ourselves. We need a power strong enough to free us, and that power is the Wisdom of God found on the Cross, Jesus Christ!
Jesus has the power to see into any human heart. In fact, we are told that He “never needed evidence about any man, he could tell what a man had in him”.
This Lent let us invite Him into the temple of our hearts, and ask Him to drive out all the structures of sin we have erected. Jesus is the only one who can renew and resurrect our lives and He wants to do it in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Let us stop trusting ourselves to mere men and the “market” culture that they offer—they can do nothing for us. Instead, let us re-commit ourselves to Jesus who lives in a Trinitarian network of Love and whose only zeal is to love us into that Divine community.
The Gospel Meditations for March are by Br Maurice White OP, a former Arima/Malabar parishioner, and teacher at both Fatima College and Holy Cross College. He is currently studying for the priesthood at the Dominican Seminary in Dublin, Ireland.