Today I went to the Carmelite shrine at Aylesford to help with confessions. It is the place where St Simon is reputed to have received the brown scapular from Our Lady of Mt Carmel. Here is a picture. (I asked an unsuspecting visitor if he knew why ducks didn’t fly upside down. He didnt know – If they did they would quack up!)
This evening I went to a solemn High Mass in the Tridentine rite at Ramsgate. It was celebrated by Cardinal Raymond Burke who is leading a worldwide defense of the traditional/biblical teaching regarding marriage and sexuality. Afterwards I met him briefly at a reception and received his blessing. Here is a picture.
This past weekend the deacon here in the parish – Rev John Boughton – gave an excellent technical homily on the gospel of the cleansing of the Temple. It reminded me of the type of biblical lectures I had in the seminary. Here is his notes.
Our gospel story of the cleansing of the temple is found in all four gospels.
But in Matthew, Mark and Luke it comes towards the end of their gospels, just before his passion.
In his gospel John places this story at the beginning of Jesus public ministry, just after his Baptism, just after he chooses his disciples.
Why does John place this event here when it is pretty certain historically that took place just before his passion where the other evangelists place it?
The other gospels are concerned with the “cleansing of the temple” quite rightly in terms of Jesus indignation at the desecration of the temple; the corruption and secular nature of the buying and selling in what is a “house of prayer”. He is echoing the words of the prophets who have condemned this desecration down through the centuries.
John in placing his story of the cleansing here at the beginning of Jesus public ministry is saying something else. As Jesus says in Matt 12.6 “Something greater than the temple is here”
We are familiar with the “I AM” sayings of Jesus that we see in John’s gospel. I am the Way the Truth and The Life, I am the bread of life, I am the Resurrection. Wherever we find these statements by Jesus they are associated with an occurrence. I am the Bread of Life is associated with the feeding of the 5000, I am the resurrection is associated with the raising of Lazarus and I am the Light of the Word is associated with the healing of the man born blind at the pool of Siloam. All these saying reveal that Jesus is God. All of them talk of a God who comes close to us.. I am not going to show you the way..I am the way.. I am not just going to bring you food. I am your food
John, in placing his story of the cleansing of the temple here at the beginning of Jesus public ministry, is making a different point. He is saying to his community and to us from the beginning of Jesus ministry, that a new Dispensation is here. The old Jewish dispensation is gone………
In the tradition of the I AM sayings, Jesus is saying no longer will you offer sacrifice for sin….I AM the SACRIFICE. No longer will you have to go to the temple…I AM the TEMPLE. No longer will you offer animals as sin sacrifice, get rid of all these sheep and cattle, I AM the Lamb of God.
“Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up..he was speaking of the temple that was his Body..When Jesus rose from the dead his disciples believed… the scripture and the words he had said” (John 2:19,22)
The destruction of the Temple in AD 70 caused major problems for both the Jews as well as the new Christianised Jews. For both of them this event caused them to re-evaluate life without the temple. Through John the Christians learnt that in Jesus they had not lost the temple.They realised that In Jesus they had God present with them as Temple, Altar and Sacrifice.
Not only that but in Jesus they had the fulfilment of all the Jewish feasts that spoke to them of God. Through the Holy Spirit this God lived within them, was present to them in all their need.
Israel were the Chosen people..chosen to reveal God to the World. It was Israel who were the carriers of the Messiah down through the centuries till the birth of Christ.
[see Matthew’s genealogy]
It was to Israel that the Word, the pre-incarnate Christ, spoke words of love through the prophets and the patriarchs.
The institutions of Israel, such as the Temple, and the great feasts of Israel were meant to reveal God. Yet when Christ comes healing the sick, forgiving the sinners, feeding the thousands, preaching that the Kingdom has come …he is rejected.
We are reminded that we too are God’s chosen people..none of us is here by chance.
We too have Jesus living within us through the Holy Spirit; the joy of our heart; closer than the air we breathe.
Each year we come to this point of grace and we are called to accept Jesus anew just as others have rejected him.
Each year we are called to come to know Him better, …this God who loves us so deeply.