Daily Readings Reflection for 3/23/09


Reflection on the Daily Readings for 3/23/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: Monday of 4th week of Lent.Isaiah 65:17-21. Psalm
30:2.4.5-6.11-13. John 4:43-54. Lectionary # 246:

John’s narrative of the cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem joins
the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) in rendering this account.
Each Gospel has its own theological approach and it is here where John
departs from the ordering of events in Jesus’ life from that of the other
three Gospels.  The event is historically significant for it is seen in
every Gospel. This is called “multiple attestation” by the exegetes and is
one of the keys toward establishing the historicity of the events.  The
Synoptics place this in the final days of Jesus whereas John has it at the
beginning of his active ministry, yet his theological approach shows that
it is related to the Paschal Mysteries of Christ, especially to his
resurrection. Rather than questioning why he changes the chronology of the
other three inspired writers, we look for the meaning of the action of
Jesus and how it is perceived by those who are in open opposition to him as
they argue with him on this occasion.

John is not speaking from a literal and historical point of view but
rather from the theologcial vantage point of view that is timeless.  The
Greek word “Kairos” is appropriate in contrast to the “Chronos” or
time-measured approach of the Synoptics.  The Temple is a symbol for the
body of Jesus and he is referring to his own body when he speaks of it
being destroyed and then raised up again in three days.  Taking John on a
literal level even today causes much confusion for the reader. He oftens
speaks on several levels and includes irony in the way Jesus’
contemporaries and enemies fail to read and understand him well.

John is aware of chronology but is beyond it when he delivers the
salvific message to us and to his contemporaries.  We see that the dialogue
involves the opponents speaking of the Temple that Herod started to renew
some forty-six years ago. This leads the informed reader to realize this
event is probably being fixed historically around the year 28 A.D.  Later
we will hear his opponents remark that Jesus is not yet fifty years of age
so how can he say “Before Abraham was, I am?”

We are being prepared for the tragic days that lie ahead of us in
Holy Week when the suffering, death, and resurrection are relived in the
Christian Churches.  John’s message is for us to get our act in order. Any
blaming of those who are not Christian is one of the most outrageous ways
of thinking for a Christian.  Raymond E. Brown tells us “Thus the Jerusalem
temple, which has been turned into a marketplace, has been replaced by the
body of Jesus as the true holy place.” (Introduction to the New Testament,
p.341).  With this kept in mind, the liturgical readings are definitely
helping us to understand what lies ahead as we approach Holy Week.  Amen.


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