3rd Sunday of Lent Year B - 7/3/2021 - Gospel: Jn 4: 5-42
Jesus' Identity
Jesus often visited the Temple of Jerusalem on Feast days. Pilgrims from all over the place gathered at the Temple to worship. Many travelled so far that they were unable to bring their offering with them to the Temple. Selling, buying, and changing money were taking place at the Temple, and these were sensible things to do. These religious and economic activities would make the Temple vibrant, and generate income for the Temple. This good intention had lost its purpose because business owners abused the pilgrims' devotional offerings. Pilgrims became victims of unjust business dealings. Cattle, sheep and pigeons selling for sacrifices caused no troubles, but their owners, and the stall- keepers did. Jesus protested against the systematic abuse of the pilgrims. His primary purpose aimed at the Temple's authorities, who ignored these unjust practices for personal gain.

Jesus could no longer keep quiet. He raised His voice and His actions followed, 'Stop turning my Father's house into a market' v.17. This saying revealed that Jesus was not an ordinary pilgrim, but a special One. Unlike previous visits when Jesus had gone to the Temple as an ordinary pilgrim; this time, Jesus made known His identity, and His duty, because His 'hour' was coming. His identity is God's Son, and His duty is to look after God's house. The Temple, a holy place, should be a place of worship with utter respect and reverence for everyone. It should be a house of prayer for all the nations. It now was not only exclusive, but it was also defiled, and defamed for exploiting the pilgrims. Profit was the first priority for the Temple's authorities. Many pilgrims were unhappy about the bad practices at the Temple, but fear of being targeted by the Temple's authorities would silence them. Jesus became the pilgrims' voice. He would no longer allow the Temple's authorities to exploit the pilgrims, and cause the defamation of the Holy Temple.

The animal sellers, and money changers didn't challenge Jesus, but the Temple's authorities did. They questioned Jesus' authority by asking Him for a sign to validate His actions. Jesus answered, 'Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up'. For the Temple's authorities, Jesus' answer was laughable, because their ancestors took forty six years to build the Temple, and Jesus alone could rebuild it in three days.

At one level, Jesus predicted that the unjust activity at the Temple caused destruction to the Temple. The pilgrims would feel, that the sacredness of the Temple was no longer observed by the Temple's authorities, and their elites. Power and wealth had dominated the holy place. Jesus' prediction of the destruction of The Temple became reality forty years later. It was destroyed by foreigners' power. At a spiritual, a mysterious level, Jesus talked about His own Body, that served as the living Temple. The Temple's authorities misunderstood both points. Instead of their coming back to God, their pride covered their eyes and they sank deeper in their blindness. The evangelist explained that 'He was talking of the sanctuary that was His body' v.21

Later on, during the account of the conversation with the Samaritan woman, Jesus revealed to the woman at the well, that His body is the living temple of God when He told her,

'True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth: that is the kind of worshipper the Father wants. God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth'. Jn 4,23

As the conversation went on, Jesus told the woman that He is the Messiah, the Christ, 'I who am speaking to you, said Jesus 'I AM HE'. v. 26

Worship 'in spirit and truth' is the only way of worship Jesus revealed to the woman.  As God's Son, Jesus is the living temple for true worshippers, and that became evident after Jesus' Passion, and His resurrection as the new everlasting Sanctuary.