Prophets like Isaiah promised that all nations would come to Jerusalem, to the house of the Lord. And so the temple in Jerusalem provided a Court of the Gentiles, and extensive place surrounding the Holy of Holies for foreigners whom God would call when the time had come.
“Them I will bring to my holy mountain
and make joyful in my house of prayer;
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be acceptable on my altar,
For my house shall be called
a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56)
Jesus’ symbolic act of cleansing the temple was a sign that that time had come. The Gentiles were called, and they were called to him. In the gospel today, Jesus speaks from the temple, most likely from the Court of the Gentiles. He’s the One whom John the Baptist has pointed out and his mission will be confirmed by his Father who will glorify him in his Kingdom.
One of Pope Benedict’s recent hopes is that all of our Catholic holy places have a “Court of the Gentiles” where we can speak to the world around us in dialogue and respect.