Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom (1 Cor 1, 22)
Jesus is doing something new that is already perceivable. We must fix our gaze on it, no longer remembering the events of the past.
A few days after changing water into wine—signaling thus that he is ushering in a radical renewal that is very different from that which Jewish ceremonial washings bring about—Jesus goes up to Jerusalem. There, in accordance with his mission of renewal, he cleanses the temple of the stain of injustice and greed, though he is less harsh with those who have the poor as customers.
The Jews resist, however, and ask for a sign of authority. It would not be surprising if these are mostly people who would lose much should the temple become once again a house of prayer: the religious establishment that deems itself infallible and unquestionable, the wealthy and influential people who lavish gifts on those who are in-charge, and hence are favored by them.
Jesus shows them a sign that they consider not only scandalous, but also ridiculous. That is because they do not know what Jesus is referring to. It is hardly likely that they would think of genuine renewal—which is very much a part of the resurrection—presupposing death.
Jesus’ sign challenges directly the unjust and the greedy who looks out so much for his interests that he does not really know anyone else, neither God whom we are to love above all and with our whole being, nor the neighbor whom we should love as ourselves. In violation of God’s commandments, the selfish carves for himself idols (ideologies on occasions) and bows down fanatically before them. He also disrespects the neighbor, sometimes to the point of kidnapping perceived enemies and beheading, raping or enslaving them, all the while “thinking he is offering worship to God.”
The Christian sign, the same one that is proclaimed in the Eucharist, is “Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” He is the incontrovertible and convincing proof how very right is the saying, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.”
If we who are God’s temple truly seek to be renewed, we must not look to past grandeur that is more reminiscent of the magnificence denounced by Jesus, but rather to the new that he is bringing about. We will fix our eyes on the way God does things; he sustains the Church, according to St. Vincent de Paul, destroying, so to speak, its principal mainstay (FrXI: 416).
Oh God, grant to us whom you have called to Christ to be imbued with your strength and wisdom.
Ross Reyes Dizon