Third Sunday in Lent – Year B

March 3 - March 15

Gospel Lectionary Text

John 2:13-22

2:13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

2:14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.

2:15 Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.

2:16 He told those who were selling the doves, "Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!"

2:17 His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me."

2:18 The Jews then said to him, "What sign can you show us for doing this?"

2:19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."

2:20 The Jews then said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?"

2:21 But he was speaking of the temple of his body.

2:22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.


Most Bible publishers title this week’s text as “Cleansing the Temple.” But this language is not in the text. Perhaps the better title might be “Closing the Temple.”

Notice that when Jesus overturns the tables, he drives out both sacrificial animals (cattle, sheep, and doves) and merchants alike. He sets both sacrificial victims AND their victimizers free. It's a profound act of disruption and liberation.

Sacrificial systems can’t survive without a constant supply of victims, and neither can a temple slaughterhouse that is designed to feed the appetite of a vengeful God. We can hear Jesus shouting, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice!” These are perhaps the most revolutionary and liberating words the world has ever heard.


How is the Spirit transforming systems of sacrifice (of which you are a part) into systems of mercy and what is that process like for you?


Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know
Be still
See the complete prayer

Word from Below Reflections

What if it’s Love?

n the spring of 2012, a group of students from one of Montreal’s finest universities, Concordia, broke into the Dean’s office and ransacked it. They tore documents, broke the computer, and flipped the desk. This was part of a province-wide student strike against the tuition and fee hikes being imposed on our publicly funded higher...

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What’s on Your Table?

The striking contrast of two completely distinct, but adjacent worlds, startled my senses and threw me into a state of disorientation. We were in Kolkata, India as part of a weeklong city consultation for doctoral students. One morning, without any particular instruction, we hopped off a bus in a neighborhood swarming with people. Drawn up...

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Temple Cleansing or Temple Closing?

Jesus did not “cleanse the temple.” Sadly, most Bibles add this heading to the story. It is misleading. Rather, Jesus closes it down! Better yet, he creates a new temple in its place – an abode of mercy that is himself. This is the heart of the Gospel!

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Understanding the Bible anew through the Mimetic Theory of René Girard.

Weekly Homily by James Alison