Cleansing the Cardiac Temple-Lent 3aPosted: March 5, 2012
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.
There are many, many insignts that Richard Rohr has given to the Christian world through his teaching and writing. One of them has direct bearing upon the gospel reading for Lent 3.
Even a superficial reading of this passage reveals that Jesus fails to be impressed with the temple ritual whilst at the same time being passionate about the proper reverence for the temple as a spiritual space.
The key to the passage lies in the words of the gospel writer, “But he was speaking of the temple of his body.“
Richard Rohr’s insight is, “When God is seen as ‘outside‘ the sacrificial system will remain. However,when God moves inside you are the temple and sacrifice is no longer required. The only sacrifice now, is me.“
What Fr. Richard in drawing attention to is the unique contribution of Jesus in “interiorizing” religion.
Large parts of the teaching of Jesus, such as those recorded in the Sermon on the Mount, are about this interior priority.
The commandments are observed by inner integrity and not by mere external compliance to a rule. That is why the entire Law can be contained in the injunction to love God and Neighbour, because this is a religious observance that originates in the heart.
By contrast, observe any Fundamentalist expression of religion and you will see an obsession with externals, usually concerned with controlling what is done with the orifices of the body!
This is not the message of Jesus.
Jesus came to challenge mere external ritualism which issues in hypocrisy when it bears no resemblance to inner motivations and does not change the heart.
External religion will always be compulisively obsessed with Prestige, Privilege, Power, Politics, Protocol, and Precedent. These are the tables and scales of oppression that Jesus overturns.
For Jesus, the heart is the holy of holies. The core of religion from which all thoughts, words and actions overflow.
Perhaps that is why the gospel can say, “many believed in his name because they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to testify about anyone; for he himself knew what was in everyone.“
When the heart knows, the ego will not be seduced.