Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Temple of His Body

In the Gospel of John, we always stand contemplatively before the figure of Jesus. And in this morning’s passage, we notice him as he calls the Jewish leaders to acknowledge the true meaning of the temple: it is the meeting place of God and the people, never ever a place for business. No wonder he is so driven to clear out what does not belong there. “What right have you to do this?” they authorities ask him. Jesus is Truth and he calls them to acknowledge the true mystery of the temple. 

“Destroy this temple,” he says, “and in three days I will raise it up.” And then we hear this most beautiful phrase whispered to us by the evangelist, “He was speaking of the temple of His Body.” The temple of his body. Jesus declares himself now and forever the meeting place between God and his chosen ones. He embodies the covenant, the forever joining of heaven and earth in his very Person. The evangelist then explains that the temple that will be destroyed and raised up is not the temple of stone but the temple of Jesus’ own body.

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” Jesus says this referring to his Hour, the Hour of his passion, death and resurrection. For it is most of all in that Hour of great sorrow and emptying, that he will truly become the place where we can encounter the most tender, self-emptying love of the Father for all creation. For in that Hour Jesus’ body will be broken open, destroyed by the horror of his passion and so become the life-giving temple of Ezekiel’s vision, the temple from which living, life-giving waters flow. Life and all love gush out of the sanctuary of his pierced heart and recreate Paradise. Here and now Jesus reveals himself as the place where the Father’s love abides and flows out. 

Detail of a Deposition by Fra Angelico.