Saturday, October 5, 2013

Lectio notes for John 2:13-25


The Latin:

3 Et prope erat Pascha Judæorum, et ascendit Jesus Jerosolymam: 14 et invenit in templo vendentes boves, et oves, et columbas, et numularios sedentes. 15 Et cum fecisset quasi flagellum de funiculis, omnes ejecit de templo, oves quoque, et boves, et numulariorum effudit æs, et mensas subvertit. 16 Et his qui columbas vendebant, dixit: Auferte ista hinc, et nolite facere domum patris mei, domum negotiationis. 17 Recordati sunt vero discipuli ejus quia scriptum est: Zelus domus tuæ comedit me. 18 Responderunt ergo Judæi, et dixerunt ei: Quod signum ostendis nobis, quia hæc facis? 19 Respondit Jesus, et dixit eis: Solvite templum hoc, et in tribus diebus excitabo illud. 20 Dixerunt ergo Judæi: Quadraginta et sex annis ædificatum est templum hoc, et tu in tribus diebus excitabis illud? 21 Ille autem dicebat de templo corporis sui. 22 Cum ergo resurrexisset a mortuis, recordati sunt discipuli ejus, quia hoc dicebat, et crediderunt scripturæ et sermoni quem dixit Jesus.23 Cum autem esset Jerosolymis in Pascha in die festo, multi crediderunt in nomine ejus, videntes signa ejus, quæ faciebat. 24 Ipse autem Jesus non credebat semetipsum eis, eo quod ipse nosset omnes, 25 et quia opus ei non erat ut quis testimonium perhiberet de homine: ipse enim sciebat quid esset in homine.

The English:

[13] And the pasch of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. [14] And he found in the temple them that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting. [15] And when he had made, as it were, a scourge of little cords, he drove them all out of the temple, the sheep also and the oxen, and the money of the changers he poured out, and the tables he overthrew. [16] And to them that sold doves he said: Take these things hence, and make not the house of my Father a house of traffic. [17] And his disciples remembered, that it was written: The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up. [18] The Jews, therefore, answered, and said to him: What sign dost thou shew unto us, seeing thou dost these things? [19] Jesus answered, and said to them: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. [20] The Jews then said: Six and forty years was this temple in building; and wilt thou raise it up in three days? [21] But he spoke of the temple of his body. [22] When therefore he was risen again from the dead, his disciples remembered, that he had said this, and they believed the scripture, and the word that Jesus had said. [23] Now when he was at Jerusalem, at the pasch, upon the festival day, many believed in his name, seeing his signs which he did. [24] But Jesus did not trust himself unto them, for that he knew all men, [25] And because he needed not that any should give testimony of man: for he knew what was in man.

The New Advent Bible page with Greek, Latin and English (Knox translation) parallel text can be found here.  And you can listen to the Greek read here (from 1.42) and the Latin read here (from 1.39).  Alternatively, listen to this useful video with the English then the Latin read verse by verse (starts at 4.14):

Study notes

One of the more common errors of our times perpetrated by some Liberals is the idea that Jesus was in some sense anti-liturgical.  Some even argue that his commitment to the poor stands in opposition to the spending of money on vestments and other adornments for churches.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church uses these verses, among others, to refute this idea:

"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.(353) He 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 death(361) 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)"

Meditation points

The Catena Aurea draws out from these verses, among other points, some considerations about how we ought to behave in relation to churches:

"BEDE; Our Lord on coming to Jerusalem, immediately entered the temple to pray; giving us an example that, wheresoever we go, our first visit should be to the house of God to pray. And He found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting...

BEDE; His disciples seeing this most fervent zeal in Him, remembered that it was from zeal for His Father's house that our Savior drove the ungodly from the temple. 

ALCUIN. Zeal, taken in a good sense, is a certain fervor of the Spirit, by which the mind, all human fears forgotten, is stirred up to the defense of the truth.

AUG. He then is eaten up with zeal for God's house, who desires to correct all that he sees wrong there; and, if he cannot correct, endures and mourns. In your house you busy yourself to prevent matters going wrong; in the house of God, where salvation is offered, ought you to be indifferent? Have you a friend? admonish him gently; a wife? coerce her severely; a maid-servant? even compel her with stripes. Do what you are able, according to your station. 

ALCUIN. To take the passage mystically, God enters His Church spiritually every day, and marks each one's behavior there. Let us be careful then, when we are in God's Church, that we indulge not in stories, or jokes, or hatreds, or lusts, lest on a sudden He come and scourge us, and drive us out of His Church...

AUG. Or, those who sell in the Church, are those who seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ. They who will not be bought, think they may sell earthly things. Thus Simon wished to buy the Spirit, that he might sell Him: for he was one of those who sell doves. (The Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove.) The dove however is not sold, but is given of free grace; for it is called grace. 

BEDE; They then are the sellers of doves, who, after receiving the free grace of the Holy Spirit, do not dispense it freely , as they are commanded, but at a price: who confer the laying on of hands, by which the Holy Spirit is received, if not for money, at least for the sake of getting favor with the people, who bestow Holy Orders not according to merit, but favor.

AUG. By the oxen may be understood the Apostles and Prophets, who have dispensed to us the holy Scriptures. Those who by these very Scriptures deceive the people, from whom they seek honor, sell the oxen; and they sell the sheep too, i.e. the people themselves; and to whom do they sell them, but to the devil? For that which is cut off from the one Church, who takes away, except the roaring lion, who goes about every where, and seeks whom he may devour? 

BEDE; Or, the sheep are works of purity and piety, and they sell the sheep, who do works of piety to gain the praise of men. They exchange money in the temple, who, in the Church, openly devote themselves to secular business. And besides those who seek for money, or praise, or honor from Holy Orders, those too make the Lord's house a house of merchandise, who do not employ the rank, or spiritual grace, which they have received in the Church at the Lord's hands, with singleness of mind, but with an eye to human recompense.

AUG. Our Lord intended a meaning to be seen in His making a scourge of small cords, and then scourging those who were carrying on the merchandise in the temple. Every one by his sins twists for himself a cord, in that he goes on adding sin to sin. So then when men suffer for their iniquities, let them be sure that it is the Lord making a scourge of small cords, and admonishing them to change their lives: which if they fail to do, they will hear at the last, Bind him hand and foot. 

BEDE; With a scourge then made of small cords, He cast them out of the temple; for from the part and lot of the saints are cast out all, who, thrown externally among the Saints, do good works hypocritically, or bad openly. The sheep and the oxen too He cast out, to show that the life and the doctrine of such were alike reprobate. And He overthrew the change heaps of the money-changers and their tables, as a sign that, at the final condemnation of the wicked, He will take away the form even of those things which they loved. The sale of doves He ordered to be removed out of the temple, because the grace of the Spirit, being freely received, should be freely given. 

ORIGEN; By the temple we may understand too the soul wherein the Word of God dwells; in which, before the teaching of Christ, earthly and bestial affections had prevailed. The ox being the tiller of the soil, is the symbol of earthly affections: the sheep, being the most irrational of all animals, of dull ones; the dove is the type of light and volatile thoughts; and money, of earthly good things; which money Christ cast out by the Word of His doctrine, that His Father's house might be no longer a market."


In his response to the questioning Jews, Jesus points to the sign of the Resurrection as the testimony to the truth of his message.  He talks about the destruction of the Temple and its repair: his hearers thought he spoke of the physical temple, but in fact he was talking about the temple of his body.

The Temple of Jerusalem was of course, indeed to be destroyed.  But in the Resurrection it is rebuilt for us; in the Eucharist its sacrifices are supplanted, perfected and appropriated for us; in the reserved host in the tabernacle we venerate that temple.

St Francis, whose feast we celebrated yesterday went through a similar journey in understanding to that of the disciples, a journey in understanding that the literal points us to the spiritual.  When he heard a voice saying 'Repair my Church', the saint at first set about rebuilding the crumbling churches of the area.  Over time though, he came to realise that his real mission was to repair the spiritual fabric of a crumbling church.

In our own time, the Church is one again crumbling, desperately in need of saints to help rebuild it with the aid of the grace won for us through the Resurrection.  How can we contribute to that task?

You can find notes on the next section of St John's Gospel, Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus (3:1-21), here.

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