Jesus had been made to identify his body with the Temple… The function of the Temple, John argues, had now been taken over by the life of Jesus, whom the very defenders of the religious tradition of the past had crucified. God, however, had raised him up in glory.
– John Shelby Spong (The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic) p. 145
The readings for the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome cycle A can be found here.
At the time the Gospel was written 40 years had passed since the Temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed. Scripture scholars will tell you that the Johannine community interpreted the story of the cleansing of the temple as referential to the resurrection of Jesus. As is the custom in John’s Gospel the Jewish leaders take Jesus’ words literally and think He means to take down the brick and mortar structure and rebuild it quickly. Jesus explains that the new temple is found in the resurrection.
The Johannine community also held the words of Jesus in the same regard as they did the Jewish scriptures. Jesus quotes from Psalm 69 as He cleanses the Temple.
For zeal for thy house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult thee have fallen on me.
The tenor of the Psalm is passionate support for the efforts of rebuilding the Temple, even if it means facing insults. The Psalmist uses the language of the present, as zeal has already consumed the Temple supporter. John has Jesus speak the words in a future tense. The passionate support for the rebuilding efforts will be reflected in the resurrection. We only need to look forward to the raising of Lazarus to find that future.
John’s Jesus says to Martha: I AM the resurrection and the life. The verb is present tense, not past or future. The power of Jesus’s message is the certainty of eternal life here and now, not there and then.
– Sea Raven
This life we lead is our eternal life. There are people who will tell you about the promises of heavenly treasures. We spend out lives looking toward that last day, where we will see the promises of heavenly treasures fulfilled. Martha, like many people we meet, refers to the resurrection on the last day. Jesus tells Martha, and us, that He is the resurrection and the life today. We need to remember these words of Jesus. We are living our eternal life right now, and Jesus at this very moment is the resurrection and eternal life.
If we remember this message from our Sunday Gospel our lives will be profoundly different. All the words of Jesus, held in the highest regard along side the Jewish scriptures, come into focus and make sense.
Love God and love your neighbor have much more meaning to our lives today if we believe in the resurrection today. We need to be passionate about cleansing old notions of resurrection from our lives, our speech, our theology and our liturgy. Jesus created a whip and drove out the sheep, oxen and the dove sellers because they corrupted the Temple. That is our lesson this Sunday.
If you take one thing away from this homily; be consumed by the passion to support the resurrection in our eternal life today. For our salvation remind those people we meet, who’s resurrection is focused on the last day, that Jesus is the resurrection and the life – today.