In the leansing and purification of the Temple, Jesus drew attention to himself as the new Temple. The presence of God was no longer signified in a man-made Temple but now realized in his Person. Then the Father’s goodness, righteousness and justice would be most visible, like in the magnificent Temple of Jerusalem.
The lesson we draw from the Gospel reading is how we too are called to purification and perfection, starting from our individual selves to our collective selves as a people. We begin our cleansing with the symbols that shape our individual identities: the personal values we hold, the truth we profess, our personal views of the world. We ask ourselves whether our living out of these symbols and values reflects the laws of God, expresses righteousness, radiates goodness and renders truth and justice. We also ask ourselves if we are able to make the necessary sacrifices of humility by allowing ourselves to be corrected to give way to what is right and good and to bring our personal interests in harmony with the greater common good.
On the societal level we ask ourselves if we are actively vigilant in protecting our collective symbols and values as a people from being perverted by selfish and ill-willed individuals or groups in our society. We make a collective examination of conscience if we have not instead contributed to the decay and fading away of the symbols of our collective identity by allowing ourselves to be used because we stand to benefit from the lies, deceptions and manipulations of many. What are these collective symbols we should protect and preserve as a people? These are the laws of our country, our social and political structures, our culture and common ethics, our social and religious celebrations.
Why this purification and cleansing? Because we are temples of the Holy Spirit in the world. We are in the presence of God in the world. We are indeed God’s presence in the world. In us God carries out his continuing mission of liberating and saving the world.
Our task is to live out this dignity and uphold this honor given to us and our fellow humans. We therefore strive to embrace values and virtues that define us as sons and daughters of God. We are called to be just and to follow God’s laws. We are called to be loving and generous. We are called to mirror the face of God in our world.