Monday May 20, 2019
6:51 pm

In All Things: Indwelling of Holy Spirit makes temples of all people of faith

      So what made Jesus so angry in this weekend’s Gospel (Jn 2:13-22)? Here’s the scenario…

      Passover was drawing near and, as was their custom, Jews flocked to Jerusalem, overflowing the city to worship at the temple. While the inner sanctum of the temple – called the holy of holies - was relatively small (priests were the only ones allowed within its walls), the surrounding area with it porticos, plazas, and staircases made the structure a magnificent place to visit, truly a visitor’s attraction. There was even a designated space where Gentiles could enter and look around.

      Passover worship for the Jews meant a sacrifice. Coming from all parts of the area, much of their coin bore pagan images or portraits of the emperor, all unacceptable for paying the temple tax. Hence, the moneychangers, who would swap out the coin for the acceptable Tyrian medium…not unlike today’s money exchanges…for a fee.

      Then there were the animals for the sacrifice: lambs for those who could afford it; smaller birds for the less affluent. Inevitably, errant animals could be found wandering about aimlessly adding to the chaos. And, with so many people, we can well imagine there might also have been people selling food, drink, trinkets and even flesh, all crowded into what should have been viewed by all as sacred space.

      Smelling a big profit, many merchants became greedy and began gouging the consumers. That would make most of us angry, so it’s not improbably that Jesus, too, became incensed and started throwing tables. This holy place was being desecrated.

      Other than painting a not before seen image of our Lord, what does this story tell us?

      I think the second reading (1 Cor 3:9c-11,16-17), gets to the heart of the matter in way that leaves little room for misinterpretation.

      “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.”

      We are God’s temple; our community of believers are its living stones. Just as the Holy Spirit was within Jesus, God’s Spirit indwells within each of us.

      However, just as in ancient times, there is a danger that notions of a not-so-noble-nature find their way into our inner sanctum, to the place where they don’t belong, - hunger for greed, power, wealth, overindulgences – and sully the sacred space within.

      Jesus looked at this giant flee market and realized God had taken second place to individual wants and needs. The secular was trumping the spiritually. And he lost his temper. Space that should have been dedicated to God was being fouled.

      God’s Spirit is what is life-giving within us. This story of the cleansing of the temple reminds us that Jesus, along with his community of believers, is true dwelling place of God.

      The story reminds us to be vigilant and question what we allow to creep in and despoil this holy place within.

     Debbie Bosak is the editor and general manager of Northwest Indiana Catholic Publications and a member of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Merrillville. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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