The four Gospel writers recall Jesus’ provocative gesture of expelling the «sellers» and the «money-changers» from the temple. He can’t stomach seeing his Father’s house full of people who make their living from religion. You can’t buy God with “sacrifices”.
But John, the last Gospel writer, adds a dialogue with the Jews in which Jesus solemnly affirms that after the temple is destroyed, he «will raise it up again in three days». No one can understand what he says. That’s why the Gospel writer adds: «Jesus was speaking of the Temple that was his body».
Let us not forget that John is writing his Gospel when the temple of Jerusalem had lain destroyed for twenty or thirty years. Many Jews feel themselves orphans. The temple was the heart of their religion. How could they survive without God’s presence in their midst?
The Gospel writer reminds Jesus’ followers that they don’t need to feel nostalgia for the old temple. Jesus, himself «destroyed» by the religious authorities but «raised up» by the Father, is the «new temple». This is not a daring metaphor. It is a reality that must forever mark the relationship we Christians have with God.
For those who see in Jesus the new temple where God lives, all is changed. In order to meet God, it isn’t enough to go into a Church. It’s necessary to come close to Jesus, enter into his project, follow his steps, live with his spirit.
In this new temple that is Jesus, in order to adore God it isn’t enough to use incense, acclamations, or solemn liturgies. The true adorers are those who live before God «in spirit and in truth». True adoration consists in living with the «Spirit» of Jesus in the “Truth” of the Gospel. Without this, any cult is “empty worship”.
The doors of this new temple that is Jesus are open to everyone. No one is excluded. Able to enter into him are the sinners, the unclean, even the pagans. The God who lives in Jesus is of all and for all. In this temple no discrimination is made. There are no separate spaces for men and for women. In Christ now «there is no male and female». There are not chosen races or excluded peoples. The only ones preferred are those needing love and life. We need churches and temples in order to celebrate Jesus as Lord, but he is our true temple.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf