Jesus' Father's House by Rev. Paul Grankauskas
Reprinted by permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
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 has 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.
You shall not make my Father's house a house of trade."
Jesus is in Jerusalem for the Passover, a customary time of pilgrimage. The outer courtyard of the temple is apparently a chaotic scene. Money changers are converting coins into proper denominations for the temple tax. Animals are being sold for sacrifice. Echoing the prophets of old, Our Lord makes it clear in a bold, dramatic way that the temple is a house of prayer, not trade.
It is no small thing for Jesus to call the temple "my Father's house." He is saying something about himself: he is the Messiah, the Son of God. The Jews challenge him on this: "What sign have you to show for doing this?" Jesus speaks of his resurrection, the ultimate sign of his divinity, power and authority. His body is the new temple. In him, "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily" (Col 2:9). Once again we are face to face with the reality and mystery of the Incarnation.
Of course, Jesus is also saying something about the Temple of Jerusalem. The temple is God's dwelling place. The original temple built by Solomon housed the Ark of the Covenant, containing the tablets of the Law and some of the manna. When it was completed, the Lord said to Solomon: "I have consecrated this house which you have built and put my name there for ever; my eyes and heart will be there for all time" (Kgs 9:3). The temple is a sacred place, a house of prayer and worship dedicated to the glory of God. It is not meant to be a chaotic - and perhaps sometimes corrupt - place of trade.
We should remember that what was said of the temple is to be said of our own local parish. A church is a house of prayer and the Lord's house.
In every church there is a tabernacle, containing not simply stone tablets or manna, but the sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood, soul and divinity. There, if you will, is Christ's eyes and heart for all time. We should share Solomon's amazement. Our Lord, who sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven, dwells in a mysterious way in every tabernacle in every church of the world.
Every church is a house of prayer and worship, dedicated to the glory of God. In every Mass our minds and hearts are directed toward the heavenly liturgy. Do we not join our voices with those of the angels and saints in heaven singing "holy, holy, holy Lord"? In the liturgy, time and eternity, heaven and earth, come together. A church is not a social hall, picnic grove or playground. It is a house of prayer. If a priest comments on inappropriate dress or folks coming late and leaving early, sometimes the response is, "Father, you should be happy they're here." Yes, we can be happy people are in church. That does not excuse a lack of respect.
A church is a sacred place, a house of prayer and worship, the dwelling place of the Lord.
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