3 Lent – Year B
Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22
“In the entire village, there is only One King; all places are sacred.” – Sri Guru Granth Sahib
You can domesticate a dog or cat, have them live always in the house, and get them to obediently poop in their corner box. We have often tried to do the same with God, as if we could just spell his name backwards. Temples are thought of as where God dwells, and we might hope housebroken. Shrines and temples are to be respected, certainly. When the money changers, and dove merchants were making the temple precincts (see Greek below) into a market place, Jesus whipped them out with uncharacteristic violence (John 2:14-16), because he saw them as disrespectful. But still that does not mean that they had God locked up in the temple holy box, domesticated. At one time people thought God only lived in the heavens. Then the incarnation, which we celebrate at Christmas, definitively ended that myth with the birth of Jesus. In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks of his body as the temple. He was not only speaking of the destruction of his body, as the temple place where God dwells, but the destruction of the myth that God only dwells in the impressive building. Jesus is moving God out. You can destroy all the bodies you want, but in three days the place where God dwells will be raised up. After the Resurrection the followers of Jesus came to understand that God dwells in the people, undomesticated, wild like a jungle lion, and never tamed. Sure, there are physical places where the veil is thin, but God is not pinned to these places. We can pilgrimage to Mecca, Assisi, or the Ganges or Jordan rivers. But don’t think we can bring God back home in a box, like the Ark of the Covenant, or in a bottle. The good news is that on our religious, realignment, journey we don’t have to buy a plane ticket. All we have to do is hear the lion roar, and fear not the fierceness.
The New Testament has two Greek words often translated “temple.” In John 2:14, where Jesus finds the money changers, the Greek word (ieros) refers to anything that belongs to the temple, not the temple building itself. It usually refers to the temple precincts or compound. So the merchants were not in the temple building, as some translations would have it, but on the grounds outside, but probably within the walls. In John 2:21, where Jesus refers to the temple of his body, the word used is the other Greek word (vaos), which refers to the temple building. Jesus is saying that if we are looking for God we don’t have to go into the building, we can simply look at Jesus.
Roar out from temple,
the Holy of Holy One
makes sacred each place.