Friday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
“… but you have made it a den of thieves.”
The Temple was the holiest place in the entire world for Jews of Jesus’ day. Catholics have a very different sense of God’s Presence in the world because of the abundance of God’s graciousness in the New Covenant. But use your imagination to picture a world where every Catholic church in the world has been destroyed except one. Every priest in the world except one has died. There is only one tabernacle in the entire world, and only in that one place does Jesus dwell in the Most Blessed Sacrament. In that world, how would Catholics approach that single tabernacle of the Most High? That thought experiment helps us grasp somewhat the sacredness of the Temple for Jews of Jesus’ day.
In Jesus’ day, one of the obligations of a good Jew was to go to Jerusalem at the time of Passover, and to offer a sacrifice in the Temple. Those who were wealthy offered an entire ox or sheep, while those with less means offered turtledoves. So there grew up a very large market during the time around Passover, a system within which many abuses developed.
Jesus undoubtedly had people cheering for Him as He chastised the Jewish officials and money-makers. But how many cheered for Him when the Jews asked for a sign from Jesus, and He replied, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”? Probably some were baffled: here He had purified the Temple, and now He wanted to destroy it?
For ourselves, Christ is the Temple, of which we are part through the Church. We need to purify ourselves—in thought, word and deed; mind, spirit, and body—just as Jesus cleansed the Temple, so that right sacrifice might be offered there.