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Gospel for Sunday, March 7: John 2: 13-25

John 2: 13-25

13Meanwhile, the Passover of the Jews was approaching and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14He found in the temple people selling oxen, sheep and doves and, sitting there, the money changers. 15Then he made a whip of cords and drove everyone out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; he threw the money of the money changers to the ground and overturned their desks, 16and to the dove sellers he said: “Take these things away from here and do not make my Father’s house a market!”. 17His disciples remembered that it is written: Zeal for your house will devour me. 18Then the Jews spoke up and said to him: “What sign do you show us to do these things?”. 19Jesus answered them: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it again.” 20The Jews then said to him: “This temple took forty-six years to build, and in three days will you raise it again?” 21But he spoke of the temple of his body. 22Then when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word spoken by Jesus. 23While he was in Jerusalem for the Passover, during the feast, many, seeing the signs that he performed, believed in his name. 24But he, Jesus, did not trust them, because he knew everyone 25and he did not need anyone to bear witness about the man. For he knew what is in man.

John 2: 13-25

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it).

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

An urban guerrilla action

All four Evangelists report the sensational gesture of Jesus chasing the sellers out of the Temple. This was a truly revolutionary action, almost an “urban guerrilla”: equipped with a whip (Jn 2.15), Jesus overturns the stalls of money changers and animal sellers, practically blocking access to the Temple. “And he did not allow things to be transported through the Temple” (Mk 11.16): the hieron, the pagan atrium, where the scene takes place, was used as a shortcut between the city and the Mount of Olives. “Do we think that Jesus’ violent action against the Temple traders was marked by non-violence, kindness, reason and moderation? Of course not… Jesus, usually against violence, here goes beyond morality… His outburst of anger… is not justifiable, it is not moral” (K. Berger).

Commercial organization in the Temple was not only lawful, but necessary: the money changers had to convert pagan coins (considered impure because they bore human or deity effigies) into Jewish coins, the only ones accepted for offerings to the Temple. The sellers provided everything that could be used for the sacrifices: lambs, doves, but also flour, oil, wine, incense… “From a purely moral point of view, the sellers were right. But God is more and goes beyond our morality. His needs often clash with what we have expected to be respectable” (K. Berger).

The overcoming of the Temple

Jesus’ gesture is certainly a sign of purification, a protest like that of the ancient prophets (Jesus in fact quotes Isaiah 56.7 and Jeremiah 7.11) against the mix between religion and commerce, between spirituality and earnings, between faith and finance.

But the gesture is intended to be a real overcoming of the Temple, the heart of Judaism, and of its cult. From now on Jesus will be the place where the people will meet God: “Jesus answered them: “Destroy this temple (naòn) and in three days I will raise it again”… He spoke of the temple of his body” (Jn 2,19-22). Jesus uses the term naòs, which indicates the most sacred part of the temple, the “Holy of Holies”, where the ark of the covenant was kept, the very place of the Presence of God: now Jesus himself is the Presence of God among the men.

In the liturgical climate of Easter, in which the victims, the temple and the signs of the Exodus were the central themes, Jesus reveals himself as the Messiah who fulfills Mal 3.1-4 and Zec 14.21, entering the Temple at the end of time , and the true Lamb is proclaimed, which replaces the ancient sacrifices. There will no longer be a need for animal sacrifices: Jesus will be the only “lamb who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1.29), the “lamb without blemish and without blemish” (1 Pt 1.19), the “sacrificed lamb” (Rev 5,6).

Jesus, the definitive Sign

Jesus will also be the definitive sign. For John, the “sign” (semeion) is an event that must lead to Faith in Jesus. The sign can lead to Faith, but Jesus rebukes a Faith that is too based on signs: here there is a fine play on words: “Jesus he did not believe in those who believed in his name when they saw the signs that he performed” (Jn 2,23-24; cf. 4,48; 20,28).

Woe to those who seek miracles and wonders to believe! To those who asked him: “«Master, we want to see a sign from you», he replied to them: «An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign!»” (Mt 12,38-39).

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus refuses to give a sign: “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation” (Mk 8,11-13). In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus states that “no sign will be given except the sign of Jonah the prophet. As Jonah was in the belly of the cetacean three days and three nights, so he will be the son of man in the heart of the earth three days and three nights” (Mt 12,39; cf. Luke 11,29). In the Gospel of John, Jesus offers the sign of the temple: «Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again (lit.: I will wake it up)» (Jn 2,19) and the author comments: «He spoke of the temple of his body . Therefore when he rose from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this and they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken” (John 2:21). Both guarantees refer to his resurrection. Only the resurrection of Jesus is “certain proof” (Acts 17.31) of the Lordship of Christ.

But “blessed are those who believe without having seen!” (Jn 20.29). In any case, the Word of God is the foundation of Faith: in fact, Jesus states: “If you believed Moses (that is: the Bible!), you would believe me too; because he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how can you believe my words?”.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at migliettacarlo@gmail.com.

Source

Spazio Spadoni

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