Cleansing Our Temple

El Greco

When the Jews confronted Jesus and demanded
proof for his authority for driving out the moneychangers,
Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days,
I will raise it up.” (John 2:19)

The Jews took him literally and of course misunderstood him,
As the disciples learned much later, our Lord was referring to his own body.

The temple is a symbol for Christ’s body, for his humanity.

In an unrelated, but well-known and often-quoted passage, St. Paul
speaks of our body as “the temple of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor 6:19)
So perhaps we can also think of our body, our humanity,
as a temple that needs to be cleansed by the Lord.
And the day before Easter, as we wait for Jesus to raise his own temple,
we can pray that he cleanses ours and raise it too.

Our Lord teaches us what may be an obvious
but important truth about temple-cleansing.

Saturday only

Like our Lord,
we need to enter the temple of OUR body, OUR humanity,
in order to cleanse it.

We need to go deep inside ourselves,
understand our needs and fears,
including our default feelings,
if we want our temple cleansed.

It is a difficult, but necessary task–
this process of getting to know ourselves
and accepting ourselves
before we can really grow in the spiritual life.

How willing–or reluctant–are you
to enter the inner chambers of your temple,
the innermost places of your self?


Some of these chambers are shrouded in shadows.
In others may lurk every possible sort of vermin and serpents.
But go into them we must–in faith and hope.

This is the mystery of Black Saturday:
Jesus did that precisely.

On Black Saturday, he remained dead
as he descended to the utmost depths of humanity

in order to rise again.

The good news is that even in the darkest shadows
in the world, whether outside or within you,

you are not alone: Our Lord Jesus has been there,
and in every possible corner you can find his shining presence
if you seek it.

The grace of Black Saturday
is that we can find God’s holy presence
even in the darkest of shadows.

Pray to Jesus
that you may receive the faith and courage
to enter into your temple–
even its darkest but holy corners–
so that you may be blessed.

Before you proceed,
listen to the words of the song “Holy Darkness”

and make it your prayer.
You may want to refer to the words provided below.



Holy darkness, blessed night,
heaven’s answer hidden from our sight.
As we await you, O God of silence,
we embrace your holy night.

1. I have tried you in fires of affliction;
I have taught your soul to grieve.
In the barren soil of your loneliness,
there I will plant my seed.

2. I have taught you the price of compassion;
you have stood before the grave.
Though my love can seem
like a raging storm,
this is the love that saves.

3. Were you there
when I raised up the mountains?
Can you guide the morning star?
Does the hawk take flight
when you give command?
Why do you doubt my pow’r?

4. In your deepest hour of darkness
I will give you wealth untold.
When the silence stills your spirit,
will my riches fill your soul.

5. As the watchman waits for morning,
and the bride awaits her groom,
so we wait to hear your footsteps
as we rest beneath your moon.

Song: “Holy Darkness” by Dan Schutte (vocalist: B Bandojo rc)