Today, about 1,986 years ago, Jesus Christ cleansed the temple, ousting the moneychangers and welcoming those who sought to learn. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to fathom the reality that nearly two millennia have passed since the historic events of this Holy Week; and these events still resonate as strongly now as they did then.
I’ve always seen this cleansing of the temple (Matthew 21:12–16) in a dual light as a way o represent the importance of keeping the Lord’s house holy and the importance of keeping ourselves, our own temples, clean. This inner cleanliness can take many forms:
- Spiritual: Keep your mind clean of unworthy thoughts. Your thoughts become your words, and your words become your actions. Start with clean thoughts. It’s easier to act with integrity if your thoughts are filled with integrity. Jesus said,
“Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.”Matthew 15:11
- Physical: Eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep. Don’t eat to excess. Be healthy. This includes a whole gamut of things, but it comes down to taking care of your “temple.”
Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.Doctrine & Covenants 88:124
- Emotional: Control your emotions, clean out all those negative ones. People say you can’t control your anger; I tell you that that’s crap. You can. You choose to be angry. Choose not to be. Choose to not judge, to not be petty, to not be jealous. Cleanse yourself of negative emotions:
“For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.3 Nephi 11:29
Cleansing our own temple isn’t something you can do once and then be done. As much as we’d like to do laundry once and never have to again, it’s a chore that comes up on a regular basis. Likewise, this cleaning must be done consistently. It takes work and dedication.
Is it a coincidence that today fire ravaged the Notre Dame Cathedral when nearly 2,000 years ago Jesus cleansed the temple in Jerusalem? That cathedral is a temple of sorts, and fire is the ultimate refiner. Perhaps it is coincidence. Or perhaps it’s just the wake-up call we need to cleanse the inner vessel, to cleanse our hearts and minds and spirits.