“He was speaking of the temple of his Body.” The temple of his Body. The temple that will be destroyed and raised up is not the temple of stone but the temple of Jesus’ own body. The temple, the sanctuary, will no longer be a place, but a person. Jesus declares himself now and forever the meeting place between God and his people, the place where God’s desire for us and our desire for God merge.
Jesus will restore the meaning of temple as sacred place of wonder and worship; the sanctuary where we may encounter God’s mercy. Jesus himself is God’s Lamb who will be slain once and for all. His self-offering in its bitterness and pain, in its immeasurable mercy and compassion will fulfill all that the temple liturgy aspired to. Jesus’ sacrifice will reinvigorate the meaning of all liturgy, for it means service- leitourgía. And liturgy is always, always first of all God’s service of us. This is the true meaning of worship: our celebrating with gratitude and praise all that God in Christ is doing for us. It is not about us, our service of God, but God’s astonishingly humble service of us in Christ. Jesus as physician, healer, and messenger of the new covenant comes to serve us, to heal and feed and console us. It is his risen and wounded body that is our sanctuary.
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” says Jesus. He is referring to his Hour, the Hour of his passion, death and resurrection. For it is most of all in this Hour that he will truly become the place where we can encounter the most tender, self-emptying love and service of the Father for all creation. For when Jesus’ body, his heart, is gashed open and shattered by the horror of the passion, it becomes that wonderful leaky temple of Ezekiel’s vision in the First Reading, life-giving waters flowing from his wounded body, recreating the beauty of Paradise. For in his Hour death dies, for Jesus’ Hour includes his final lifting up, the resurrection, accomplished by the Father’s love.
Antique corpus in the Abbey Hermitage photographed by Brother Brian. Excerpts from this mornings homily for the Feast.