Third Sunday of Lent

Open your heart to men and to Christ

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. Jn 2,13-21

While Matthew and Mark set the story of the expulsion of the peddlers from the temple near the end of their gospels, John situates it at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, to highlight the fact that this is one of the most significant events in his earthly life, after the Passion and Resurrection. The condemnation of the merchants of the temple coincides, in fact, with the most solemn proclamation in the Gospel: the joyful message of the liberation of the poor, of those who are oppressed and without any privileges. They find in Jesus of Nazareth the new temple, where they can find God’s peace, as well as justice and love for every people and for each person. God does not need the apparent religiosity expressed with spoken words as it is manifested in the temple made of stones, but an interior worship, in which the whole human being is engaged, with his thoughts, feelings, words and actions. The event told in today’s Gospel has pulled down the wall of every ethnic, cultural and religious division. Even the ones far away have the right to have access to this new temple, which is Jesus Christ. It is no longer reserved for the pious and observant, but it is open to all men of good will. It is a global announcement that, after the resurrection of Jesus and Pentecost, the Church will make its own, opening the message of the gospel to everybody without distinction as to race, culture or religion. But the advent of the new temple, announced by Jesus today, is not only in himself, but in the fact that every man is God’s temple, and in every man, even in the atheist, a spark of the divine presence shines, and we can meet God in it. This passage from the Gospel must urge the Church of our time to a reflection. A time which, further to the collapse of the borders, the society has become a mixture of races, languages, cultures and religions. Every man we meet on the street, even if you do not know him, has got dreams, projects, is God’s temple and is loved by God in a unique way. We believe that there is a lot to think over and pray about this truth, so that the current narrow-mindedness can be demolished. Jesus Christ came right for everyone.

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