Our readings today from the 1st Book of Maccabees and the Gospel of Luke bring us to the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Three years after its profanation by Antiochus Epiphanes, about the year 167 BC, the Jews under Judas Maccabeus re-conquered Jerusalem and restored the temple, which was at the heart of their religion. Our first reading describes the rededication of the temple to its former glory. The Jews continue to celebrate it in the feast of Hannukah. (1 Maccabees 4,36-61}
The New Testament writers were certainly aware of this historic event when they wrote about Jesus cleansing the temple. Entering Jerusalem after his journey from Galilee, “ Jesus went into the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, ‘It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.’” Then, “every day he was teaching the temple area” until he was arrested and put to death. (Luke 19,45-48)
It was a symbolic act. Jesus himself is the presence of God, the Word made flesh, the new temple of God. Luke says he taught in the temple “every day.” He intercedes for us, he teaches us, he is our high priest uniting us to his Father and our Father, “every day.”
He is the temple that cannot be destroyed. At his trial before he died, witnesses gave testimony that was half right when they said he spoke of destroying the temple. When Jesus spoke about the destruction of the temple, he was speaking of the temple of his own body. Death seemed to destroy him, but he would be raised up on the third day.
We share in this mystery as “members of his body.”