Zeal For Your House Will Consume Me

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

Today is the Feast of the Dedication of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, dedicated by Pope Sylvester I in 324 AD to Christ the Savior. It is the cathedral of the Roman bishop, the Pope, and thus holds the primacy over the four major papal basilicas. But the Bible readings for today all point to the fact that more important than a basilica is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb who is the Temple of the new Jerusalem. (Rev 21:22)

The Presentation of Jesus Christ to Simeon at the temple, forty days after his birth, fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel 43:4-5: “The glory of the LORD entered the temple by the eastward gate and the house of God was filled with his splendor.” The first-born male Israelite was to be redeemed with five shekels of silver because he belonged to God. Mary came bringing a sacrifice of turtle doves for her post-partum uncleanliness but sacrificed Jesus by presenting him to Simeon for service in the house of God, just like Hannah brought Samuel to Eli, at Shiloh, to serve the LORD for his whole life. Samuel was given to the LORD because of the vow Hannah had made.

The gospel of Luke tells us that Mary and Joseph went up to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover every year. (Lk 2:41) When Jesus was twelve years old, his parents lost him for three days, but after they found him in the temple, Mary asked him: “Son, why have you treated us so?”, he replied “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:48-49)

Yet Another Passover

The whole history of Jesus’ devotion to the Temple (His Father’s House) sets today’s Gospel scene for yet another Passover, the first one he shared with his disciples at the beginning of his public ministry. They had come to pray, to celebrate the feast, to sacrifice lambs as prescribed for all Israelites by the Torah, and then to consume the lambs in memory of the first Passover in Egypt some 1200 years earlier. What Jesus saw in the outer court of the Gentiles in the temple infuriated him: money changers, buyers and sellers of cattle, sheep, and doves, with the smells and sounds of a souk, not the place of quiet and order of a place to worship God, to give thanks to God for his salvation. Jesus made a whip out of cords and used it to drive out the birds and animals.

To top that disturbance, he overturned the tables of the money changers, spilling thousands of coins throughout the nooks and crannies of the marble floor. And then he roared “Take these out of here and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” Simeon’s prophecy was being fulfilled. “This child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed.” (Lk 2:34) Today’s gospel reading is meant to be disturbing. Jesus actions pointed to the end of animal sacrifices which would disturb both the economic and religious aspects of temple worship and the destruction of the temple itself by the Romans in 70 AD. “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” pointed to his passion, death and resurrection and the new center of worship, the temple which is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.


When the disciples reflected upon this ruckus which Jesus raised at this Passover feast, the Holy Spirit revealed to them, after his resurrection, the words of Psalm 69:9; “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Our gospel goes on to say: “They believed the scripture and word which Jesus had spoken.” Just as the Jews were commanded to make sure there was no leaven in their homes during the feast of Passover, Jesus wanted to cleanse the temple of anything that interfered with the worship of God by Gentiles and Jews. So, he was upset about the use of the court of the Gentiles as a market, not a place of prayer. Jesus was zealous to be obedient to his Father in worship and to fulfill his mission as a faithful Jew and as the Messiah, who came to die, so that all might have salvation. His prophecy that he would “destroy this temple and raise it up in three days” would be hurled against him during his trial before the Sanhedrin and while he was dying on the cross, but it was fulfilled at his Resurrection. (Mt 27:40)

For further reflection: The second reading I Cor 3:16 reads: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” Let us consider taking time to pray before the Blessed Sacrament about what Jesus needs to cleanse in our hearts so that we can love the Lord our God with our whole heart, soul, and strength.

[Readings: Ez 47:1-2, 8-9, 12; 1 Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17; Jn 2:13-22]

Dr. David Cooper

Dr. David Cooper OP Dr. David Cooper OP converted to Catholicism 16 years ago and became a life promised Lay Dominican 8 years ago. He is grateful for 50 years of marriage, two daughters and 5 grandchildren. He is a retired rehab doctor with a passion for medical missions, having served in Thailand, India, Cameroon and Honduras. His current mission field is in the Texas state prison system where he is active in the Kolbe Prison Ministries. He also mentors men who are in Lay Dominican formation. [email protected]


  1. Steve Wee on November 13, 2022 at 8:57 am

    Thank you for the historical reflection. But more important, your reflection on our beliefs, as we should always.

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