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Zeal for the Zealous God

A Reflection on Jn 2:13-15

By Fr. Serg Kabamalan, CJM

God is zealous! He puts all of Godself into everything that he does and ensures their fulfillment. God’s zeal originally shared within the Trinity, flowed into creation, and continues to sustain it through all times.

The covenant relationship with Israel, initiated by God himself (cf. Ex 20:1-17), is God’s zeal for creation to move forward according to his Plan. It raised a small tribe of slaves to the dignity of belonging to God through election, meant to be an example for all the world through rules of engagement to lead and guide them to the flourishing of human life at personal, familial, communal and societal levels (cf. Ps 19:8-11).

God’s zeal, however, would not always be welcomed. Yet throughout Israel’s history, God’s zeal for humanity has always shone through the darkness. At the appointed time this zeal became incarnate in Jesus Christ, so that through him God’s creation may be able to respond to God in like manner just as the Son gave all of himself zealously to the Father, mirroring Him who is the fount of love.

The cleansing of the Temple was nothing if it is not Jesus’ zeal to perfect human worship of the Father, as he drove away everything that is peripheral to true adoration (cf. Jn 2:13-25). What was necessary before (i.e., the animal sacrifice) for human beings to remain part of the People of God was to be abolished. In Christ, there is only one sacrifice needed for all generations – his own where the human and the divine are already fully united. In doing so, he paved the way toward instituting a temple worship that is totally dedicated to God, untainted by worldly affairs that are susceptible to selfish goals, competing with and trampling on others to the detriment of what is just, fair and pure.

In his zeal, Jesus sees himself therefore as the dwelling place for the Father where people can come to offer an authentic worship “through him, with him and in him.” His zeal cannot be side-tracked by the threat of destruction, his passion and death. With confidence, he declared before those who opposed him that “on the third day” he shall raise up the Temple of true worship, alluding to his resurrection.

Through the Holy Eucharist, may we be cleansed and be united with Jesus Christ, our Head, so we can be one with him in his perfect adoration of the Father, and be filled with zeal to glorify him by our lives!

Ex 20:1-17

Covenant relationship: The Lord is Israel’s God, and Israel is God’s people… mutuality… belonging to one another…

- Raises up the stature of a tribe of slaves to the dignity of people entering into an agreement with the God of Life and Love

- 10 commandments: rules of engagement

- Contract: responsibilities goes with privilege of belonging to God not just through creation but by election

Psalm 19:8-11

Response: from Jn 6:68c… Lord you have the words of everlasting life

God’s law/precepts/rules/decrees/commands/ordinances… are exalted… as source of life, wisdom, joy, enlightenment…

- Provides the real finer things in life

- Following it… allows one to get more out of life… live it to the full

- Leads to flourishing of life, not just at the personal level but also at familial/communal/societal level


Different take on Crucified Christ

- Jews: a stumbling block… the Messiah cannot possibly suffer and die… the savior cannot end up in utter disgrace

- Gentile: foolishness… how can weakness be associated with God?

- To the Called: power and wisdom of God at its fullness

- God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom

- God’s weakness is mightier than human strength

Jn 2:13-25

Zeal for your Father’s house will consume me

- From Psalm 69:10… The psalmist’s commitment to God’s cause brings only opposition

- Zeal: seen in the cleansing of the Temple… driving out all that is peripheral to worship of the Father… because now what was needed before repeatedly is being repealed… in Christ there is only one sacrifice needed for all generations and all eternity. Animal sacrifices is deemed abolished.

- Temple is meant to be a place that is totally dedicated to God, not to worldly affairs in pursuit of personal goals, especially one that competes with and tramples on others’ agenda to the detriment of what is just, fair and human

Jesus’ identification with the Father is total

- He sees himself as the dwelling place for the Father where people can come to offer true worship through him, with him and in him…

- He identifies that he is the true Temple of God

- Destroy… he understood it as his passion and death

- I will raise it up on the third day… alluding to his resurrection

This puts him in direct opposition to the establishment (the priests, elders, scribes and pharisees)

- Clinging to their human understanding, they attempt to ridicule Jesus

- 46 years… started with Herod the Great

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