“But the temple he had spoken of was his body.”

John 2:21

Friday, 12 March 2021

John 2:13-25

Let me, as we end these reflections, turn things around a bit. My thoughts on the cleansing of the temple have focused on Jesus’ conflict with the authorities of his day and how they had corrupted the central focus of 1st Century Judaism, the Temple. I have suggested that we may find ourselves facing similarly corrupted ‘temples’ – institutions and organizations, whether secular or religious – in our world today. I asked you, and in asking you, I ask myself, how one might respond with inner authority and integrity.

Today, I want to move us inward.

Consider the story as a parable of oneself – myself as much as you. What parts of myself are outwardly a sign of propriety and order but inwardly chaotic? What are exterior things I claim that I inwardly deny? How have I sold out to self-interest and greed?

Please understand – I am not trying to lay a guilt trip on anyone. But we need to explore where our temple has lost its purpose in our lives. We need to find ways to cleanse our own temple, not least if we are to assist Christ in cleansing the temples of our day.

Here we must proceed with caution. Many of us have grown up with a sin-based religion that obsessed over a multitude of things and caught us in a spiral of sin-confession-absolution – and then sin again. Such a model can so easily become an analogy for the ritual sacrifice culture of the temple that became for Jesus a scandal.

Let us rather risk genuine and systematic self-examination, an inventory of our strengths and weaknesses and of what we truly believe. Own who we are (authority, in the sense of authorship of our lives). Act according to who we believe we should become. This includes letting go of parts of ourselves that no longer serve who and what we are becoming.

That’s called an inner cleansing, an inner revolution, or in traditional language: conversion.

Ask yourself: Am I ready this Lent to destroy and rebuild, to cleanse myself of my illusions and deception?

Loving God,

Fill us with the dangerous love of Christ who tears down to build up;

May we have the courage guided by the Spirit to imitate him this Lent, that we too may rise to new life in you.


Fr Anthony Egan SJ

Fr Anthony Egan SJ (born Cape Town 1966; entered the Jesuits 1990; ordained 2002) has taught, full-time or part-time, at St Augustine College of South Africa, St John Vianney Seminary, Fordham University (on sabbatical) and the University of the Witwatersrand. The author/co-author of a number of books, book chapters, academic and popular articles, he is a correspondent for America magazine, a contributor to Worldwide and writes for spotlight.africa. He is also a commentator on local and international radio and television. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Helen Suzman Foundation. Extramural interests include Science Fiction, Theatre, Art and creative writing, including poetry.

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