The 3rd Sunday of Lent Gospel Reflection: Jesus at the Temple and the Turning of the Tables
“He is the centre of History and of the world; he is the one who knows us and who loves us; he is
the companion and friend of our life.” – Pope Paul VI
This Sunday, as we prepare ourselves for the preparations of Easter and as we are now in week three
of Lent, just half way through the season of Lent. We must really make best use of our time and
opportunity that is given to us. This way, not only do we celebrate the passion of our Lord Jesus
Christ but we can also deepen our faith and become disciples of God
In todays’ first reading from the book of Exodus; the Lord revealed his law and commandments to
his people through Moses. Moses was the leader of the Israelites journeying out of the land of Egypt
in the chapter of Exodus. Our Lord had revealed the Ten Commandments and other laws which can
be found in the Books of Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy.
The Lord has renewed and established the covenant between himself and the people of Israel, those
whom he had called and chosen to be his own people. The Lord identified each one of the most
important Ten Commandments starting with the first and foremost law and Commandment being to
Love and to honour Him with all your heart and strength with all your whole being.
The first three Commandments focus on the reverence and the love for God, stipulating that as
those whom God has called to be His people; we are all bound to love the Lord and worship Him
alone; Glorifying and honouring His name as well as honouring the day and time that has set aside for
us to spend time with Him, on Holy Day of the Lord, which used to be known as ‘The Sabbath’.
Therefore, we keep Sunday as Holy Day for the celebration of Mass.
The seven other Commandments begin with the Commands honouring our Father and Mother. It
focuses more on the element of relationship with one another and how we are supposed to love our
fellow men, just as much as we love God. The Ten Commandments have to be obeyed as a whole, we
cannot truly love God unless we practise and show the same love to our fellow brothers and sisters in
Christ and we neither truly love each other until we genuinely love God.
In todays’ Gospel, we hear about the moment when Jesus had walked and visited the Temple of
Jerusalem and was outraged by the by the money exchangers and corrupt merchants who were doing
unfair business at what was the house of God, a place of worship. This was one of the important
events leading up to the passion that we read in the scripture as it was the around about the same time
as the beginning of Jesus’ teachings. The money exchangers and the corrupt merchants had been
unfairly charging people an treating people in order to gain profit for their businesses and it was this
exact reason why Jesus was angered by what he was witnessing in the Temple, that he striked out
those who were unfairly doing business at the Temple for their injustice. Not only did the merchants
and money exchangers unfairly did business but they also cheated people at the Temple twice, with
many customers travelling from afar to get their ritual sacrifices. This is in fact a violation of The Ten
Commandments; “Do not steal” and “do not covet what belongs to your neighbours”; these
Commandments had been disobeyed and so in doing so they had disobeyed God. When Jesus had
encountered the chief priests, who questioned and challenged Him, Jesus spoke to them and said he
will “ destroy the Temple and I will raise it again in three days”.(John 2:19) When He says he will
rise it in three days, our Lord is referring to Himself as the Son of Man as he is the Temple of God,
where his divine word becomes incarnate in the flesh. This is a pre-figurement before the passion of
our Lord Jesus Christ.
And what of Jesus’ anger? Jesus was not even close to committing a sin. The scenes at the Temple
were signs of Virtue as our Lord had the right to be angry by the events that occurred in the Temple.
St Thomas Aquinas explains in question 158 of the Summa Theologica that in order to have virtue,
we do need to have an element of anger against sin. Q.158, article 2 states “No man sins what he
cannot avoid...the angry man acts with displeasure”, hence Aquinas backs up that anger is not a sin.
The Passion of Christ is when Jesus had laid down his life for our sins and having done so, it not
only destroyed the physical self but also it caused the destruction of the Temple; being the body of
Jesus Christ. This is very symbolic and is shown to us on Good Friday when the veils are teared apart.
Furthermore, it illustrates that the Temple is not just a physical place of worship but rather Jesus
Christ being present. When we go to Church, we go because Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, we
see Jesus in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Todays’ Gospel is just a constant reminder that we too are part of the Church, in One Body, One
Unity in the Eucharist. St Paul teaches us “Do you not understand that you are a Temple of God and
that the spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, lives in you”. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) He teaches us that we
need to keep it clean, pure and immaculate; free from sin. St Augustine later follows up with “what
the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is the Body of Christ which is the Church which is also
mentioned in Catechism 797.
During this season of Lent, we are reminded from todays’ scripture that we are called to Holiness,
called to go to God and to be obey Gods’ laws once again. Sometimes we are consumed by politics
and what we read in the media and focus too much on what is happening in this modern era we are
currently living in. But just ask yourselves these questions; Am I following Gods’ laws or am I
following the secular crowd? Am I saying Yes to God? Just as Jesus cleared the corruption of the
Temple, we are also asked to be free of sin and stay clean, to go and seek Gods’ forgiveness. For God
so loved the world, that he gave his only son to die for us.
Do you truly and genuinely love God? Do you truly want to seek him?
Let us use this time during Lent to purify ourselves and deepen our relationship with God. God has
given us The Ten Commandments, the Catechism, the scripture but most of all, he has given us
unconditional love. Let us love God and obey his laws and be cleansed both body and soul.
“Believing is an act of the intellect, assenting to the Divine truth by Command of the will moved by
God through grace” – St Thomas Aquinas
~ F. Emmanuel Joseph