Today Jesus is in the most sacred place of the Holy City – the Temple, on the day Jerusalem was celebrating its most solemn feast, the Passover. The temple is seen as a sacred place, a sacred building. Then Jesus calls it “my Father’s house”; going beyond Jewish usage. Finally temple means his body; living water would flow from Jesus’ pierced body on the cross. Jesus would become the source of eternal life for those who believe.
Jesus’ powerful action (driving the buyers and sellers out of the Temple) and his powerful words (“destroy my body and in three days I will raise it up”) are a statement to his enemies that things must change. Rules and buildings will no longer be central to religion. Faith, belief in Jesus – this will be key. Later when it came to the crunch, Jesus died and was raised to life, but still his enemies would not believe.
Saint Paul puts it this way. The Jews demand miracles; the Greeks wisdom; but we preach a crucified Christ. Today, as then, many see belief in a crucified Christ as an obstacle; as madness. No doubt, some would be happy with a risen Christ but not the crucifixion.
People today suffer in different ways. Some will suffer much less than Jesus but some suffer as he did. In essence, Jesus’ suffering came about because he preached the truth in a world where those in power did not want the truth. The circumstances could have been different. They were for Mary. Her suffering was to watch her Son suffer.
We should, of course, seek to alleviate suffering. For example, we take a sick child to the doctor. But the wisdom of God suggests that obedience to circumstances, obedience to what God is asking of us, as with the crucified Christ, is the way to happiness now that endures for ever; to eternal life.
Ian Tomlinson SJ