Today’s Catechism sections cover Jesus and the Temple and Jesus’ and Israel’s Faith in the One God. Supporting material comes from St. John Chrysostom’s “Homilies on the Gospel of John”.

II. JESUS AND THE TEMPLE

583 Like the prophets before him Jesus expressed the deepest respect for the Temple in Jerusalem. It was in the Temple that Joseph and Mary presented him forty days after his birth.349 At the age of twelve he decided to remain in the Temple to remind his parents that he must be about his Father's business.350 He went there each year during his hidden life at least for Passover.351 His public ministry itself was patterned by his pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the great Jewish feasts.352

584 Jesus went up to the Temple as the privileged place of encounter with God. For him, the Temple was the dwelling of his Father, a house of prayer, and he was angered that its outer court had become a place of commerce.353He drove merchants out of it because of jealous love for his Father: "You shall not make my Father's house a house of trade. His disciples remembered that it was written, 'Zeal for your house will consume me.'"354 After his Resurrection his apostles retained their reverence for the Temple.355

585 On the threshold of his Passion Jesus announced the coming destruction of this splendid building, of which there would not remain "one stone upon another".356 By doing so, he announced a sign of the last days, which were to begin with his own Passover.357 But this prophecy would be distorted in its telling by false witnesses during his interrogation at the high priest's house, and would be thrown back at him as an insult when he was nailed to the cross.358

586 Far from having been hostile to the Temple, where he gave the essential part of his teaching, Jesus was willing to pay the Temple-tax, associating with him Peter, whom he had just made the foundation of his future Church.359 He even identified himself with the Temple by presenting himself as God's definitive dwelling-place among men.360 Therefore his being put to bodily death361 presaged the destruction of the Temple, which would manifest the dawning of a new age in the history of salvation: "The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father."362

III. JESUS AND ISRAEL'S FAITH IN THE ONE GOD AND SAVIOUR

587 If the Law and the Jerusalem Temple could be occasions of opposition to Jesus by Israel's religious authorities, his role in the redemption of sins, the divine work par excellence, was the true stumbling-block for them.363

588 Jesus scandalized the Pharisees by eating with tax collectors and sinners as familiarly as with themselves.364 Against those among them "who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others", Jesus affirmed: "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."365 He went further by proclaiming before the Pharisees that, since sin is universal, those who pretend not to need salvation are blind to themselves.366

589 Jesus gave scandal above all when he identified his merciful conduct toward sinners with God's own attitude toward them.367 He went so far as to hint that by sharing the table of sinners he was admitting them to the messianic banquet.368 But it was most especially by forgiving sins that Jesus placed the religious authorities of Israel on the horns of a dilemma. Were they not entitled to demand in consternation, "Who can forgive sins but God alone?"369By forgiving sins Jesus either is blaspheming as a man who made himself God's equal, or is speaking the truth and his person really does make present and reveal God's name.370

590 Only the divine identity of Jesus' person can justify so absolute a claim as "He who is not with me is against me"; and his saying that there was in him "something greater than Jonah,. . . greater than Solomon", something "greater than the Temple"; his reminder that David had called the Messiah his Lord,371 and his affirmations, "Before Abraham was, I AM", and even "I and the Father are one."372

591 Jesus asked the religious authorities of Jerusalem to believe in him because of the Father's works which he accomplished.373 But such an act of faith must go through a mysterious death to self, for a new "birth from above" under the influence of divine grace.374 Such a demand for conversion in the face of so surprising a fulfillment of the promises375 allows one to understand the Sanhedrin's tragic misunderstanding of Jesus: they judged that he deserved the death sentence as a blasphemer.376 The members of the Sanhedrin were thus acting at the same time out of "ignorance" and the "hardness" of their "unbelief".377

IN BRIEF

593 Jesus venerated the Temple by going up to it for the Jewish feasts of pilgrimage, and with a jealous love he loved this dwelling of God among men. The Temple prefigures his own mystery. When he announces its destruction, it is as a manifestation of his own execution and of the entry into a new age in the history of salvation, when his Body would be the definitive Temple.

594 Jesus performed acts, such as pardoning sins, that manifested him to be the Savior God himself (cf ⇒ Jn 5:16-18). Certain Jews, who did not recognize God made man (cf ⇒ Jn 1:14), saw in him only a man who made himself God (⇒ Jn 10:33), and judged him as a blasphemer.

In his “Homilies on the Gospel of John”, St. John Chrysostom teaches on the episode where Christ drove the money-changers out of the Temple.

2. Another Evangelist writes, that as He cast them out, He said, Make not my Father's house a den of thieves, but this one,

John 2:16

(Make not My Father's house) an house of merchandise.

They do not in this contradict each other, but show that he did this a second time, and that both these expressions were not used on the same occasion, but that He acted thus once at the beginning of His ministry, and again when He had come to the very time of His Passion. Therefore, (on the latter occasion,) employing more strong expressions, He spoke of it as (being made) a den of thieves, but here at the commencement of His miracles He does not so, but uses a more gentle rebuke; from which it is probable that this took place a second time.

And wherefore, says one, did Christ do this same, and use such severity against these men, a thing which He is nowhere else seen to do, even when insulted and reviled, and called by them 'Samaritan' and 'demoniac'? For He was not even satisfied with words only, but took a scourge, and so cast them out. Yes, but it was when others were receiving benefit, that the Jews accused and raged against Him; when it was probable that they would have been made savage by His rebukes, they showed no such disposition towards Him, for they neither accused nor reviled Him. What say they?

John 2:18

What sign showest Thou unto us, seeing that You do these things?

Do you see their excessive malice, and how the benefits done to others incensed them more (than reproofs)?

At one time then He said, that the Temple was made by them a den of thieves, showing that what they sold was gotten by theft, and rapine, and covetousness, and that they were rich through other men's calamities; at another, a house of merchandise, pointing to their shameless traffickings. But wherefore did He this? Since he was about to heal on the Sabbath day, and to do many such things which were thought by them transgressions of the Law, in order that He might not seem to do this as though He had come to be some rival God and opponent of His Father, He takes occasion hence to correct any such suspicion of theirs. For One who had exhibited so much zeal for the House was not likely to oppose Him who was Lord of the House, and who was worshipped in it. No doubt even the former years during which He lived according to the Law, were sufficient to show His reverence for the Legislator, and that He came not to give contrary laws; yet since it was likely that those years were forgotten through lapse of time, as not having been known to all because He was brought up in a poor and mean dwelling, He afterwards does this in the presence of all, (for many were present because the feast was near at hand,) and at great risk. For he did not merely cast them out, but also overturned the tables, and poured out the money, giving them by this to understand, that He who threw Himself into danger for the good order of the House could never despise his Master. Had He acted as He did from hypocrisy, He should only have advised them; but to place Himself in danger was very daring. For it was no light thing to offer Himself to the anger of so many market-folk, to excite against Himself a most brutal mob of petty dealers by His reproaches and His blows, this was not the action of a pretender, but of one choosing to suffer everything for the order of the House.

And therefore not by His actions only, but by His words, He shows his agreement with the Father; for He says not the Holy House, but My Father's House. See, He even calls Him, Father, and they are not angry; they thought He spoke in a general way: but when He went on and spoke more plainly, so as to set before them the idea of His Equality, then they become angry.

And what say they? What sign showest Thou unto us, seeing that You do these things? Alas for their utter madness! Was there need of a sign before they could cease their evil doings, and free the house of God from such dishonor? And was it not the greatest sign of His Excellence that He had gotten such zeal for that House?

Footnotes

349 ⇒ Lk 2:22-39.
350 Cf. ⇒ Lk 2 46-49.
351 Cf. ⇒ Lk 2 41.
352 Cf. ⇒ Jn 2 13-14; ⇒ 5:1, ⇒ 14; ⇒ 7:1, ⇒ 10, ⇒ 14; ⇒ 8 2; ⇒ 10:22-23.
353 Cf. ⇒ Mt 21:13.
354 ⇒ Jn 2:16-17; cf. ⇒ Ps 69:10.
355 Cf. ⇒ Acts 2:46; ⇒ 3:1; ⇒ 5:20, ⇒ 21; etc.
356 Cf. ⇒ Mt 24:1-2.
357 Cf. ⇒ Mt 24:3; ⇒ Lk 13:35.
358 Cf ⇒ Mk 14:57-58; ⇒ Mt 27 39-40.
359 Cf. ⇒ Mt 8:4; ⇒ 16:18; ⇒ 17:24-27; ⇒ Lk 17:14; ⇒ Jn 4:22; ⇒ 18:20.
360 Cf. ⇒ Jn 2:21; ⇒ Mt 12:6.
361 Cf. ⇒ Jn 2:18-22.
362 ⇒ Jn 4:21; cf. ⇒ 4:23-24; ⇒ Mt 27:5; ⇒ Heb 9:11; ⇒ Rev 21:22.
363 Cf. ⇒ Lk 2:34; ⇒ 20:17-18; ⇒ Ps 118:22.
364 Cf. ⇒ Lk 5:30; ⇒ 7:36; ⇒ 11:37; ⇒ 14:1.
365 ⇒ Lk 18:9; ⇒ 5:32; cf. ⇒ Jn 7:49; ⇒ 9:34.
366 Cf. ⇒ Jn 8:33-36; ⇒ 9:40-41.
367 Cf. ⇒ Mt 9:13; ⇒ Hos 6:6.
368 Cf. ⇒ Lk 15:1-2, ⇒ 22-32.
369 ⇒ Mk 2:7.
370 Cf. ⇒ Jn 5:18; ⇒ 10:33; ⇒ 17:6,26.
371 Cf. ⇒ Mt 12:6, ⇒ 30, ⇒ 36, ⇒ 37, ⇒ 41-42.
372 ⇒ Jn 8:58; ⇒ 10:30.
373 ⇒ Jn 10:36-38.
374 Cf. ⇒ Jn 3:7; ⇒ 6:44.
375 Cf. ⇒ Is 53:1.
376 Cf. ⇒ Mk 3:6; ⇒ Mt 26:64-66.
377 Cf. ⇒ Lk 23 34; ⇒ Acts 3: 17-18; ⇒ Mk 3:5; ⇒ Rom 11:25, ⇒ 20.