In the first reading, Ex 20:1-17, the law is given to the people of God through Moses. It essentially ennumerates what is known as the ten commandments, a series of laws which form the basis for the 613 commandments which make up the Jewish religion. The commandments include warnings against idolatry, using the Lord's name in vain, keeping holy the Sabbath Day, honoring our parents, and rejecting murder, adultery, theft, lying, and coveting. Catholics often use these commandments as a short-form examination of conscience before going to confession, asking themselves if they have committed any of these sins.
The rest of the 613 commmandments of the Jewish religion can fit into the categories represented by these ten. They are, in fact, representative of the whole of the law, thus breaking them is considered a mortal sin.
The responsorial psalm, taken from Psalm 19:8-11, begins with John 6:68. "Lord, you have the words of everlasting life."
This is to remind us that we, as the people of God, are called to obey the Word of God, these very commandments, without which we will not attain heaven. The psalm tells us that the law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. Indeed, keeping those commandments perfectly would ensure righteousness. But as the story of the Israelites goes.... who could keep the Law perfectly?
That's where the second reading comes in. 1 Cor 1:22-25 says that Jews demand signs, and Greeks look for wisdom, but we (Christians) proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to many, but to those who are called, the wisdom of God.
The death of the Christ (which is Greek for Messiah or annointed one) is in fact a stumbling block. So much so that the muslims have removed his death on the cross from their scriptures, claiming instead that he never really died! Throughout his entire ministry, passion, and resurrection, Jesus indeed fulfilled the Law and prophecies revolving around the coming of the messiah, but each time he did so it was in a completely unexpected way, confounding both Jews and Greeks but calling all of them -- and us-- to believe and follow.
Which brings us to the Gospel for today: John 2:13-25, a passage usually referred to as the Destruction of the Temple. It is tempting to read and take this passage at face value: the money changers rightfully angered Jesus, who reminds them of the righteousness of God and the role of the temple as a house of prayer, furiously driving them out.
The scripture tells us, though, that the Jews, looking for a sign (as in the second reading), demand to know what sign he can give them for doing these things. He tells them: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." His response is not only perplexing but almost insulting to them... after all, the temple is the place where God is worshipped. But he does not elaborate or clarify verbally that He means the temple of His body. So what is happening here?
In fact, He is mystically destroying the temple before His passion-- and tells us that He will be resurrected, both literally and figuratively erasing the NEED for the temple, which served the people of the old covenant but would no longer be needed in the new. The law, the prophets, the sacrifices... all are in Him, now, Jesus, the Messiah. He is the Law. He is the prophets. He is the Temple.
As he symbolically destroys the physical temple, he is raising up HIMSELF before those who would hear and understand. The person of Christ is our "house of worship."
What a powerful message for those of us who daily see in our frustration our own money changers and market people destroying the house of God. This passage often comes to mind for those of us who see corruption, greed, and carnal events within our parishes and become very angry.
But we need not concern ourselves with driving them out with whips and harsh rebukes--- Jesus has already done so and they are not in our Temple. Our Temple is Jesus, the person of Jesus, Messiah.
Because He has done so, they are not worshipping with us... only fooling themselves. Those who worship "in God's house" are those who come in adoration of the Messiah.
Jesus went up to the temple as the privileged place of encounter with God. For him, the Temple was the dwelling of His Father, a house of prayer, and he was angered that its outer court had become a place of commerce. He drove merchants out of it because of jealous love for His Father: "You shall not make my Father's house a house of trade." His disciples remembered that it was written: "Zeal for your house shall consume me." After His Resurrection, His disciples retained their reverence for the Temple."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 584)