The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
Ezekiel 47:1-2,8-9,12 + 1 Corinthians 3:9-11,16-17 + John 2:13-22
November 9, 2020
… you are the temple of God ….
Today’s Gospel passage shows us God’s passion for His temple, and His passion for the sacrifice offered there. In the confessional, priests often hear people confess anger. A priest might find it necessary to ask questions when someone confesses “getting angry”. In light of Jesus’ action in this passage, it’s important to remember not only that merely “getting angry” is not necessarily a sin. Also, even acting in anger is not necessarily a sin.
Acting in anger, or fostering anger in oneself or others, certainly can be a sin. But Jesus acts in anger in today’s Gospel passage, and with good reason. When reflecting on a state of anger, and actions that flow from it, it’s important to ask what the object of one’s anger is. This object can make all the difference in the morality of such an act.
While experiencing the passion of anger, Jesus purifies the Temple. In the passion of love, He purifies the temple of the human body of sin on Calvary, by offering up His own body in sacrifice. St. John the Evangelist makes this point clearly. When Jesus challenges His opponents, saying, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up”, the evangelist explains that Jesus “was speaking about the temple of His Body.” The Church’s belief in the great goodness of the human body is based in large measure on this Gospel truth. The Church’s challenging ethic of purity of body stems not from a belief that the human body is bad, but that the human body’s purity ought to concern us as much as the purity of the Temple concerned Jesus. Both temples ultimately belong to God, for His purposes and for His glory. The temple of the human body is meant for the offering of sacrifices, small and large.