The angel brought me
back to the entrance of the temple,
and I saw water flowing out
from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east,
for the façade of the temple was toward the east;
the water flowed down from the southern side of the temple,
south of the altar.
He led me outside by the north gate,
and around to the outer gate facing the east,
where I saw water trickling from the southern side.
He said to me,
“This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah,
and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh.
Wherever the river flows,
every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live,
and there shall be abundant fish,
for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh.
Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow;
their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail.
Every month they shall bear fresh fruit,
for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary.
Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”
Reading 2 (1 Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17)
Brothers and sisters:
You are God’s building.
According to the grace of God given to me,
like a wise master builder I laid a foundation,
and another is building upon it.
But each one must be careful how he builds upon it,
for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there,
namely, Jesus Christ.
Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God’s temple,
God will destroy that person;
for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.
Gospel (Jn 2:13-22)
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 had said this,
and they came to believe the Scripture
and the word Jesus had spoken.
I. THEME: All temples whether belong to individuals, family, or the Church need to be purified.
Today the universal Church celebrates the dedication of the St. John-Lareran Basilica, one of the four basilicas in Rome. It used to be the official headquarter of the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, in more than 1000 years, from about 350 AD to the exile in Avignon (1350 AD). As the Temple of Jerusalem, St. John Lateran was also destroyed and rebuilt many times due to sins and shortcomings of men; but it still remains today.
Today readings remind people that they must always purify all temples from sins because they are the places where God presents with people. In the first reading, the prophet Ezekiel had a vision about the future Temple of Jerusalem. He saw water which flows from the right side of the Temple so much that it becomes a river connecting with the Jordan river, and to the Dead Sea; wherever it flows to, it heals people there and brings life to them. This vision implies the expansion of the Church from Jerusalem to all places of the world, to bring God’s salvation to men through the water of Baptism. This water has power to purify men’s sins and to bring eternal life to them. In the second reading, St. Paul advised the Corinthian faithful that they must always inspect their individual temples for God which are their bodies. After he built them on the firm foundation of Christ, they must frequently inspect them to see if the way they built their temple is worthy of Christ. In the Gospel, Jesus went up to Jerusalem to purify the Temple, his Father’s house, because people made the Temple into a place of business and exchanging of monies. When he was asked what kind of authority he had to do such a thing, he challenged them if they destroy “this temple,” he will rebuilt it in three days. His disciples understood that he implied “this temple” was his body, after they saw him resurrected three days after his death. The scribes and Pharisees thought he talked about the Jerusalem Temple.
1/ Reading I: Wherever the river goes every living creature which swarms will live.
1.1/ The water flows from the right side of the Temple: According to the geography of Jerusalem, the Southeast of the Temple is the Kedron valley which used to be dried, so that one can walk over from the Temple to go up to Mt. Olive, as Jesus and his apostles probably did after they had finished their Last Supper. Ezekiel’s vision is very strange because it is very hard to fill up Kedron deep valley with water so that it can become a river flowing to the east to connect with the Jordan river and to the Dead Sea. Many Scripture scholars consider this vision is a symbol of the expansion of the Church from Jerusalem to all Gentiles countries.
1.2/ This water has power to heal and to give life: The second strange thing from his vision is that the water of the Dead Sea is so salty that not a single creature can live there. In his vision, Ezekiel described the power of the water as follows: “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the stagnant waters of the sea, the water will become fresh.And wherever the river goes every living creature which swarms will live, and there will be very many fish; for this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes.And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food.” If one understands this water is compared to the water of Baptism and the Holy Spirit’s grace, it indeed has power to cleanse people from sins, to heal them from all kinds of human weakness, and to sanctify people.
2/ Reading II: No other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
According to St. Paul, when one has been baptized, he set up the foundation of his life on Christ; therefore, he must build up the house of his life in a way that is worthy of Christ, so that it is deserved to be called as God’s temple. All Christians must frequently examine their temple in order to guarantee its quality as God’s temple. If not, that house will not be firm before all storms of life.
In the Letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul compared all Christians as living members of God’s Temple, built on the foundation which are the apostles and the prophets, with Christ is the cornerstone. The Church, including all Christians, must also frequently examine themselves to guarantee the holiness of God’s Temple.
3/ Gospel: “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”
3.1/ Jesus’ action when he saw people had polluted the Temple: All four evangelists reported this event; but in John, this event is reported during the beginning of Jesus’ mission; while the Synoptic evangelists reported this event at the end of Jesus’ mission, and it was the cause that some Jews used to accuse Jesus with the Sandherin. Why do we have this difference? John probably wanted to use this event to show that Jesus clearly realized his role as the Son of God when he self-proclaimed the Temple is his Father’s house as he said to those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”In addition, he also wanted to teach people to know the correct way to purely worship God in truth, free of all illegal trades.
3.2/ The argument between Jesus and the Jews: The Jews then said to him, “What sign have you to show us for doing this?”Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
Jesus wanted to imply “this temple” is his body; but the Jews thought he talked about the Jerusalem Temple, so they argued with him: “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”
They thought Jesus exaggerated and blasphemed, but his apostles only understood what Jesus meant, “when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Our bodies are the temple of the Trinity, built on the foundation of Christ. We must frequently examine ourselves to guarantee the quality of God’s temple; if not, it can turn out to be the place of the devil.
– Our family, parish, and the whole Church are also God’s temples. The duties of every Christian are to purify himself from sins and to help others to do the same, so that they are deservedly the places for God, and we will receive many graces from Him.