National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

St. Joseph, St. Patrick and the Temple

User’s Guide to Sunday

BY Tom & April Hoopes

March 8-14, 2009 Issue | Posted 2/27/09 at 4:30 PM

 

Sunday, March 15, is the Third Sunday of Lent (Year B, Cycle I). Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Africa March 17-22.


Papal

EWTN.com offers free streaming video of some papal events.

Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Cameroon and Angola March 17-23. He plans to meet with Muslims, Catholic movements promoting women’s rights, and youth.


Family

FaithandFamilyLIVE.com is the website of Faith & Family magazine, our sister publication. Click “Resources” to find spiritual aids.

March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day; March 19 is St. Joseph’s Day.

For St. Patrick’s Day, recite the “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” prayer. It may not have been composed by St. Patrick himself, but it is an old Irish prayer in the style he would have prayed. Some versions of the prayer make it into a kind of nature worship prayer. Find the original at the Faith & Family website, which includes:

“I bind to myself today the virtue of the incarnation of Christ with his baptism, the virtue of his crucifixion with his burial, the virtue of his resurrection with his ascension, the virtue of his coming on the Judgment Day.”

St. Joseph’s Day in Europe is Father’s Day. Why not make it a special “spiritual” father’s day for Dad? Write cards thanking him for the virtues he brings to the family.


Readings

Exodus 20:1-17 or 20:1-3, 7-8, 12-17; Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 11; 1 Corinthians 1:22-25; John 2:13-25

EPriest.com offers free homily packs for priests.


Our Take

In today’s first reading, God gives the Israelites the Ten Commandments; in today’s Gospel, Christ says that he will destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days.

The Law and the Temple were the two major channels of God’s grace. They were central to Jewish identity.

The Jewish people loved their history and how it showed God’s care for them. But the story of their history reached its climax in the Ten Commandments, and its denouement was all about the Temple: its construction, its destruction, its rebuilding.

The Law and the Temple also loomed large in day-to-day life. The Ten Commandments and derivative regulations governed behavior from morning until night; the Temple was the place of sacrifice and prayer, the place God continued to dwell with his people in the Ark of the Covenant, which held the tablets of the Old Testament.

So, when Christ takes a whip and cleanses the Temple of the money changers in the Gospel, he’s giving a sign of respect for the Temple that should not have been lost on pious Jews — and wasn’t lost on many.

Then, when he says “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days,” he issues a challenge that also was not lost on pious Jews. The consequences of what he is saying couldn’t be more significant: If in the cleansing of the Temple he made himself the servant of the Temple, with this statement he is somehow making himself the Master of the Temple.

It became clear after his death and resurrection that he’s not just master of the Temple; he is the new temple. The Ten Commandments once were the way and the truth, and the Temple was the life of the pious Jew; now Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

A Pharisee like Saul was scandalized by Christ’s actions at the Temple. Later, as Paul, it was only through Christ’s intervention that he was able to see the deeper, scandalous truth here.

You can hear the tension in today’s second reading: He says Christ the Temple is a “stumbling block” to Jews; Christ the way is “foolishness” to Gentiles. But to Christians, he is what the Temple and Law once were: “the power of God and the wisdom of God.”