2021-03-073rd Sunday of LentRev. Msgr. Michael J. Motta, D.Min.

There was one tax that every Jew over 19 years of age had to pay. It was called the temple tax. The tax was equivalent to 2 day`s wages. The people came from all over the world and they carried with them the currencies or the coins of the places where they lived. Consequently, money changers were needed to exchange their money into shekels. If their trade had been straightforward and honest they would have fulfilling an honest and necessary purpose. Unfortunately, these money changers often cheated people. What enraged Jesus was that the pilgrims to the Passover, who could ill afford it, were being fleeced at an exorbitant rate by the money changers. It was a real injustice. What was worse was the fact that it was being done in the name of religion. The same types of abuses were involved in selling the animals for sacrifice.

It says in today`s Gospel that Jesus became enraged by all of this - overturned their tables and drove them out of the temple area. Obviously, the people involved were very upset and wanted to know by what authority he did these things.

It is then that he makes a most interesting statement. "Destroy this temple and in three day, I will raise it up."

What he was saying was that this was the end of the old way of worshipping and the beginning of a new way. In the future, worship would not be limited to any one place. From now on it would center on the person of Jesus Christ and he would be present whenever 2 or 3 gathered in his name.

Jesus was saying something else too. Not only would he replace the temple but he would also replace the animal sacrifices which had been offered in the temple. He himself would be the victim of sacrifice and he would shed his blood for us. "This is my body which I give up for you. This is my blood which I shed for you." No greater love has a man than he give his life up for his friends. Jesus calls us, you and me, his friends.

In the year 70AD Roman armies marched into Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. Never again would Jewish priests offer animal sacrifices there. The only remnants of that old temple are what they call the wailing wall or the western wall. The new sacrifice is Jesus Christ and he is offered to us daily in the form of bread and wine. Jesus becomes a part of us and we become a part of Jesus.

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