By Dr. Jun Ynares, M.D.
“Didn’t that act of Jesus lack charity?”
That was the question a young friend asked our pastor recently. Our casual discussion over coffee happened to wander into that part of the Bible where the story is told about Jesus’ entry into the temple.
As the story goes, what Jesus saw drove him into some kind of rage. He was apparently very angry. That fit of rage seemed to have driven him to do what media today would call “violent dispersal.” He kicked and overturned the tables of merchants and traders doing business within the premises of the temple.
Citing ancient Scriptures, Jesus explained his actions with these words: “My temple will be a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
This particular story about Jesus is among those remembered by many. It is one of the most depicted in various art forms. The story is so remarkable that all four evangelists – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – said something about it in their respective Gospels.
“Jesus was simply fulfilling the prophecies made about him in the Old Testament,” our pastor-friend explained. He helped our young friend understand that the “cleansing of the temple” had nothing to do with an “anti-capitalist” ideology which he thought Jesus advocated at that time.
While listening to the exchange between the two, I asked myself what the relevance of that particular story in the Bible has today.
True, there are certain personalities and organizations suspected of “using religion” to promote their business aspirations. There are also church groups accused of being involved more in “commercial activities” and fund-raising than in preaching the Good News.
While those thoughts were racing through my mind, it dawned on me that the word “temple” needed to have a new definition for me personally. I also realized that the story of the cleansing of the temple still applies today – particularly to me.
I asked my pastor-friend to clarify to me what the word “temple” meant. He said that the Bible refers to it as the “place of worship.” He explained that the ancient temple of Jesus’ time housed a “Holy of Holies” – the inner most sanctuary in the Tabernacle where only the High Priest was allowed to enter. There, God spoke to His people.
My mind, heart, and body are a “temple,” too.
This is where God arranges His daily encounters with me. This is my personal “Holy of Holies” where I can be alone to listen, to pray, to be refreshed. I, alone, can enter that place God has reserved for our meeting.
In the face of the challenges of daily life, this “temple” and its “Holy of Holies” are also desecrated.
It is infiltrated by the endless “trading” and “commercialization” of my Self, my principles, my ideals, and my very faith.
The “worldly business” activities I have allowed to take place daily in my personal “temple” may have often crowded out God. The sacred space reserved for him may have often been surrendered to other things that we are prone to “worship.” It may have often been transformed into a “den” of the things that rob me of joy, faith, and hope – the things that one can have only through a daily meeting with the One for whom that sacred space has been made.
When this happens, I welcome the “angry” Christ into my personal temple. I allow Him to scold the “merchants” of havoc that have found “commercial spaces” around my personal sanctuary. There, I let Christ drive them away, clean the place and restore it to its state of serenity.
This season of Lent, I invite our readers to find their sanctuary in Antipolo.
Despite its rapid development, Antipolo has many places for spiritual solace. There are retreat houses and houses of prayer, as well as convents which open their doors to those who wish to spend time away from the busy-ness of everyday life.
Antipolo is like a temple, too. True, the pace of its commercial development in the recent years has been unprecedented. However, Antipoleños have preserved many of the spots where one can enjoy solitude and peace.
There, one can experience the cleansing of one’s personal temple.
I wish our readers a meaningful and prayerful observance of the Lenten season. I do hope you spend part of that season with us.
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