Saint Paul Preaching in Athens,
Drawing by Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691-1765),
Drawn in 1734,
pen and black and gray ink with gray wash, heightened with white gouache, on tan prepared paper
© The National Gallery of Art, Washington

Saint Paul Preaching in Athens,
Drawing by Giovanni Paolo Panini (1691-1765),
Drawn in 1734,
pen and black and gray ink with gray wash, heightened with white gouache, on tan prepared paper
© The National Gallery of Art, Washington

Gospel of 3 March 2024

He was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body

John 2:13-25

Just before the Jewish Passover Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and in the Temple he found people selling cattle and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting at their counters there. Making a whip out of some cord, he drove them all out of the Temple, cattle and sheep as well, scattered the money-changers’ coins, knocked their tables over and said to the pigeon-sellers, ‘Take all this out of here and stop turning my Father’s house into a market.’ Then his disciples remembered the words of scripture: Zeal for your house will devour me. The Jews intervened and said, ‘What sign can you show us to justify what you have done?’ Jesus answered, ‘Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this sanctuary: are you going to raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body, and when Jesus rose from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the words he had said.

During his stay in Jerusalem for the Passover many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he gave, but Jesus knew them all and did not trust himself to them; he never needed evidence about any man; he could tell what a man had in him.

Reflection on the drawing

Today’s gospel reading suggests that Jesus was looking beyond the physical Temple. When he says, ‘Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up’, the evangelist comments that ‘he was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body’. Jesus was saying that the real place of God’s presence on earth was now no longer the magnificent temple but himself. His risen body is the new sanctuary of God’s presence, the new true temple. It is no longer necessary to enter a sacred building such as the temple in Jerusalem, to meet with God. We need only to turn to Jesus, our risen Lord, and he is not confined to the physicality of a temple or a sanctuary or a church. He can be found anywhere.

In fact, after Jesus’ resurrection, the followers of Jesus who lived in Jerusalem continued to worship in the temple, but they also worshipped together in one another’s homes. The communities of believers to whom Paul wrote his magnificent letters all lived a long way from Jerusalem. They gathered together for prayer and the Eucharist in the homes of those members of the community who had the space to accommodate others. There would be no church buildings for almost another three hundred years when Christianity was officially recognized by the Roman emperor Constantine.

Our drawing, executed by Giovanni Paolo Panini in 1734, shows Saint Paul preaching in Athens. The group is not seated in a temple but  among ruins. Yet they are in the temple because they are listening to the Word of God. Panini was an Italian painter and architect who worked in Rome and is primarily known as one of the vedutisti ("view painters"). He is best known for his vistas of Rome, taking a particular interest in the city's antiquities. He painted small figures set in vast ruined landscapes. Though Panini could capture the crumbling columns and arches, the Temple of God remains ever unshaken, a testament to a foundation that no brush can tarnish. For in the gallery of the heart, where faith hangs, the Temple of God is an eternal masterpiece, its beauty never in ruins.

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Anita Adams
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Anita Adams
1 month ago

I read this with gratitude.

Elvira
Member
Elvira
1 month ago

Regarding the last paragraph…. Perhaps the conclusion of this gospel is a little surprising. The question is how is it that Jesus does not joyfully welcome these people who seem willing to join Him? I think that in today’s Gospel we are at the beginning of Jesus’ public life…
The Gospel passage says that Jesus knows people’s hearts and must have read in their eyes that they are sincere people but that it is too early to accept them, so that they consider themselves already disciples and therefore risk deceiving themselves, that they are already in the new world, in the kingdom of God.
Perhaps He see them still very attached in their hearts to the old religion (the religion of the Temple), that religion that makes you feel better than others because you can offer sacrifices to God, that religion that also makes you expect a reward from God because you have earned it by obeying its commands. Jesus said enough to this religion: to be demolished (like the Temple). It is a religion that we may continue to cultivate today, but Jesus does not reject these people and neither does he reject us, but invites us to reflect on what we have really understood from his proposal so as not to be carried away by quick enthusiasm.
Then Jesus seems to want to say to them and to us: ‘Deepen, little by little, my proposal for a new world and a new relationship with the heavenly Father and realize what it means for you to belong to the new sanctuary that is my person’.

Last edited 1 month ago by Elvira
Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
1 month ago

Act of Hope

O God, I hope with complete trust that you will give me,
through the merits of Jesus Christ,
all the necessary Grace in this world
and Everlasting Life in the world to come,
for this is what you have promised and
You always keep your promises.
Amen.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
1 month ago

Back from Mass: we had The Samaritan Woman as the well as it was a scrutiny mass for two adult candidates for baptism at Easter.
“You have no bucket sir and the well is deep…” just made me think of ourselves…still doubting that He can actually do anything…

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
1 month ago

Just back from a neighbouring parish doing a Mary’s Meals appeal. People are very generous. Going back at 6PM.
For anybody in the British Isles please get involved. It’s wonderfaul and we need more helpers.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
1 month ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Check out Mary’s Meals website

Elvira
Member
Elvira
1 month ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Mary’s Meals was the 2023 Princess of Asturias Concord Award

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
1 month ago
Reply to  Elvira

They were. I saw that on Youtube Elvira.

George K
Member
George K
1 month ago

This is Steven Charleston’s message today…

Feel the touch of the Spirit. Like a hand resting gently on your shoulder, a feeling of warmth radiating into your body, the awareness of a loving presence by your side, surrounding you like sunlight on a late afternoon with a halo of hope: feel the touch of the Spirit and be made whole.

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
1 month ago
Reply to  George K

Beautiful. Thank you.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
1 month ago

I like this image, and Father’s reflection and the information he gives about how the church grew, not from a physical building made from stones, or whatever, but from the physical hearts and minds of the early Christians.

We embody Christ. Our visiting priest gave us a rousing sermon last night, and how refreshing it was, that though our church buildings are crumbling and suffering from lack of maintainence, we are still and will forever be, the body of Christ. United in the Eucharist we have a share in all that Jesus is, living within us.

I have heard, not first hand obviously, that Pope Francis is calling all parishes to begin to decide what sort of future they want for themselves. I am told this means ever single parish, everywhere! What a task, but whether our own parish is large or small there is always work to be done, and decisions to be made.

Sadly some parishes in my diocese have very low mass attendance, and I guess most of those are elderly, so what that means for them I don’t know. It is a reality we will have to face head on.

My own parish appears healthy compared to some, but it shouldn’t be a numbers game. Populations recede and grow, they move around, and they leave people behind.

In all this we should be led, like those early Christians, not by how beautiful or awe-inspiring our buildings, are (conscious this is a Christian Art web-site!) but how much we reflect and live out the Gospel in our homes, our communities and our churches.

This is sounding like a sermon, so I’ll leave it here.

A peaceful and restful Sunday everyone. The sun is shining!

Elvira
Member
Elvira
1 month ago

I can’t comment now but I would like to recommend a movie that you can find on Youtube, although you may have already seen it. At the time, many people found the film quite disruptive.
“Jesus of Montreal” is a Canadian drama film directed by Denys Arcand. It is not a recreation of the Jesus of Galilee in its socio-cultural and historical context, but an update, in the best sense of the word, of the life of the Lord in today’s world. As I read today’s Gospel, I recalled a scene from the film where the director intends to relive the holy wrath of Jesus in the face of the outrage to which the temple of Jerusalem is subjected as described in the Gospel of St John this Sunday. But it is no longer a brick temple that has become a market… but the living temple of the person humiliated and mistreated by a consumer society that does not stop at any value to achieve profit and profit. Today also Jesus would make a whip to expel all who make his temple a cave of bandits.

Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
1 month ago
Reply to  Elvira

Quebec and the world today is so ‘profane’……..literally.
The hypersecularization of the West will be our downfall yet.
Why did this all happen? Because we do not honor the sacred.

Father’s words do give comfort: “We need only to turn to Jesus, our risen Lord, and he is not confined to the physicality of a temple or a sanctuary or a church. He can be found anywhere.”

If anyone is interested: profane etmology:
late Middle English (in the sense ‘heathen’): from Old French prophane, from Latin profanus ‘outside the temple, not sacred’, from pro- (from Latin pro ‘before’) + fanum ‘temple’.

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
1 month ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

Always enjoy a bit of etymology, Jamie, thank you.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
1 month ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

From what we see of Canada over here it looks like a horror show. We have a lovely Canadian woman in our parish in London. She grew up completely ‘unchurched’ and became a Catholic. She writes history books and is most well informed about everything that is going on in this world today. 😬

Elvira
Member
Elvira
1 month ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

Have you seen the movie, Jamie? What do you think?

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
1 month ago

God knows the whys and wherefores of the carapace we build for ourselves as armour against the hurts of the world. And he knows what lies deep inside. I believe, and Lord help me when I doubt, that that core is always redeemable, however polluted it may have become.
On first glance the drawing looked almost boring, semi-monochromatic! But looking closer, it’s very detailed and beautifully executed. The different media used demonstrate the care that went into it.
A day out today with my husband, I’ve had a very busy week, and this day is for him. Wishing you all a peaceful day, may you be able to turn off your worries and be refreshed.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
1 month ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

I agree- it is a very pleasant and undemanding, skillful painting, but for rather bland.

Painting and writing poetry about ruins was part of the Romantic movement (think Tintern Abbey) that became very popular around this time and well into the 19th century too. I see this as part of that movement to romanticise the past, but I’m not sure if I’m right on this.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
1 month ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

I wonder if this artist had any part in inventing the yeasty Italian bread that we see so much of nowadays?
Frivolous comment of the day 🥳

Last edited 1 month ago by Chazbo M
Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
1 month ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

If Panini did not invent the sandwich, maybe one of his “companions” did? LOL

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
1 month ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

And ha-ha!

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
1 month ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

Lol 😜!

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
1 month ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

His tasty name didn’t escpae me either lol!

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
1 month ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Tee-hee!

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
1 month ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

A boss once told me, never say you’re not sure and never apologise. In business that is.

Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
1 month ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Chazbo: never complain and never explain – just get on with it

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
1 month ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

It seems that landscape painting evolved from the 15C on, not as nostalgia, or romanticism, but as genuine appreciation of its intrinsic beauty. See Giorgione’ Adoration of the Shepherds, shown below, where a beautiful landscape holds an equal place, visually, with the depiction of the Holy Family. The theory is that in 17C Holland it became an acceptable subject in its own right, with the establishment of the Protestant ‘religion’. And it did develop into a romantic movement, in 18C and 19C., partly as a reaction to the spoliation of industrialisation.
As for writing, another subject! The two sort of collide in Grey’s Elegy, which is full of pastoral landscapes, a hymn to lost innocence.
Other views on the subject?! Only needs half a lifetime!

Giorgione_-_Adoration_of_the_Shepherds_-_National_Gallery_of_Art
Last edited 1 month ago by Noelle Clemens
Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
1 month ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

I love that painting and want to own it! Actually I might get a facsimile which are very high quality nowadays.

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
1 month ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

✅️. Nothing wrong with reproductions, they give enormous pleasure, and they are really high quality, as you say.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
1 month ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

I wasn’t really referring to landscape in this sense. Mainly the use of old ruins that don’t figure in this painting, and landscapes for in the romantic sense tend to lack human figures, maybe this is what I meant but never mind, I didn’t express it very well.

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
1 month ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Sorry I misunderstood you, SfG, but I had fun thinking about landscape in general!

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
1 month ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Oh my goodness, I see now! Think you are right, and a lot of buildings were indeed in ruins, as seen in very early photography….

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
1 month ago

That last paragraph is quite of ominous isn’t it? It almost implies that you can follow Jesus and believe but that won’t be enough.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
1 month ago
Reply to  Thimas@

I don’t get that impression.

Janey M
Member
Janey M
1 month ago
Reply to  Thimas@

“He can tell what a man has in him”. There is a truth of ourselves within ourselves that only God can see. That is not what we show to the world. He knows what to trust us with. Even so, that trust is betrayed daily.

It is a startling thought, but you may be right. However, I believe in a merciful God, re the prodigal son of yesterday.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
1 month ago
Reply to  Thimas@

Is he talking about the same people though? I didn’t think so.
He will know what’s in your heart and whether you believe – or even simply want to…like the man said “Lord, I do believe – forgive my unbelief.”
Just as we read yesterday, He always welcomes us.
Morning Thimas.

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
1 month ago

Good morning Patricia, thinking about it that last paragraph was tagged on by John most likely. People may have been able to report what Jesus said passed down, but I don’t suppose they knew what he thought.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
1 month ago
Reply to  Thimas@

No one knows the mind of God, and can never know in this life. We can but stumble in our attempts- but God loves that we try, and not give up.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
1 month ago
Reply to  Thimas@

You have a point because those are not Jesus’s words…

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
1 month ago
Reply to  Thimas@

Not ominous at all. It may make us check ourselves, as we are reminded there is ‘no hiding place from the Father of creation.’ Bob Marley, One Love.

George K
Member
George K
1 month ago
Reply to  Thimas@

I read it as an observation, not threatening at all.

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