Commandments and the Temple Purification a new relationship

A Lenten reflection by Bishop Joseph Mary Kizito, the Bishop of Aliwal North Diocese

Exodus 20:1-17

The Exodus from Egypt and the covenant of Sinai are the main events that made the Israel the people of God. The Covenant or the treaty brings about a New Relationship. The commandments are words of liberations. Therefore, they are not burdening for our lives that are to be feared.

The commandments have got two sides. The first three commandments provide a direct relationship with their God. The second seven commandments are about a relationship with each other.

Jesus cleanses the temple

The Gospel John 2:13-25

In the gospel of today in the 3rd Sunday of lent offers us a very significant incident that is the CLEANSING OF THE TEMPLE at Jerusalem. The Temple was the most sacred place in the city, where the most solemn festival of the Passover took place. The temple was a place where God was most present and worshiped and treasured. The temple was the centre for religious, social and commercial centre of the city. It was not the first time that Jesus went to Jerusalem. He had gone there as a young boy.  This was the place where Jesus drove them out of the temple.

During the Passover celebrations, there were many people about a quarter million people. These people come from Rome, Greece, Egypt, Tyre, Sidon and Jerusalem. On this Passover there was a need for the animals, to be offered. So, the temple offered that service. The temple priests made a tremendous profit from the animal market. There was also a need to pay tax for every 19-year-old Jew. So, there were money changers in the temple court to offer that service.

These two major abuses, led to Jesus to become very angry. He acted by protecting his father’s house, which was being desecrated. The Jews ask for the sign from him. He answers them by saying that “I WILL DESTROY THIS TEMPLE AND IN THREE DAYS I WILL RAISE IT UP “However for the Jews did not yet understand, they took it in a literal meaning.  

There was a zeal of Jesus for his father’s house. He was having an inner pain and feeling of Jesus. He could not accept such a situation. For example, if they could do this abuse to God’s temple then this led to a great fear in Jesus’ heart. One day this abuse would be his body that would be crucified.    

What do these commandments and cleansing of the temple mean for us today in our own faith? We are just in the middle of Lent.  We all need to be in a good relationship. No one can be a good person without the ten commandments. They are the vital necessity for our way of life, as Christians in this time of lent. We need to reflect on them day by day. Let us ask ourselves if we really love God with our actions and lifestyle in this season of Lent? We are called to love and to know these commandments by heart. We are in the Covid-19 pandemic. We need to take care of those infected and affected. The use of the Ten commandments can help us, to deal with the Covid-19. They are not there to restrict our freedom. They help us to make rightful decisions of our daily lives.

We are called to be in a good relationship with one another and our God. We are helped by the ten Commandments to live our lives righteously, before God and men. We cannot do without the ten commandments, just as we cannot do without breathing.

 These commandments, show us the beauty of God, and to be able to meet the needs of each individual. To be a responsible person and to be people of prosperity in both this world and the next. The readings of the third Sunday are a reality, a timeless.  Our relationship should not be based on rewards for our works, but on a good relationship.  

Applications on the Gospel:

 There was a relationship with God’s temple to mean his physical body. However, the Jews and the disciples did not understand at that time. Only at the resurrection did the disciples understand it.

The BODY OF JESUS IS THAT REAL BODY OF CHRIST.  There is a call for us to experience death and a true resurrection.  There are many temples today that people turn into market places. We turn, our homes into battlefields.  When we enter into friendships we should not look for our own advantages.

In this third Sunday let us have our relationship with Jesus based on love. Let us call upon Jesus to come into our temples and cleanse them. The Lenten time is a season to take away the baggage of our market places.  The only Temple that counts is the body of Jesus, and we can see Jesus in the poor, hunger and the needy. We are called to become his body in our society. Let us pray that the Lord may be with us in our moments of success and downfalls.     

Questions for reflections:

  1. What are the temples that we do turn into market places to day?
  2. Why is Jesus cleansing the Temple?
  3. What have we turned into a Market? 
  4. Do we forget to give respect to our Church buildings?
  5. Do we treat our bodies as objects?
  6. Do we turn our churches into a place of prestige and power?
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