19 Jesus answered, and said to them: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 The Jews then said: Six and forty years was this temple in building; and wilt thou raise it up in three days? 21 But he spoke of the temple of his body.
Theophylact: He does not however provoke them to commit murder, by saying, Destroy; but only shows that their intentions were not hidden from Him. . . . Our Lord, as the destroyer of death, says, I will raise it up; that is to say, by My own power.
Augustine: The Father also raised Him up again; to Whom He says, Raise You me up, and I shall reward them. But what did the Father do without the Word? As then the Father raised Him up, so did the Son also: even as He said below, I and My Father are one. [John 10:30]
Chrysostom: Why does He give them the sign of His resurrection? Because this was the greatest proof that He was not a mere man; showing, as it did, that He could triumph over death, and in a moment overthrow its long tyranny.
Origen: Both those, i.e. both the Body of Jesus and the temple, seem to me to be a type of the Church, which with lively stones is built up into a spiritual house, into an holy priesthood; according to St. Paul, Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. [1 Cor 12:27] And though the structure of stones seem to be broken up, and all the bones of Christ scattered by adversities and tribulations, yet shall the temple be restored, and raised up again in three days, and established in the new heaven and the new earth. For as that sensible body of Christ was crucified and buried, and afterward rose again; so the whole body of Christ’s saints was crucified with Christ, (each glorying in that cross, by which He Himself too was crucified to the world,) and, after being buried with Christ, hath also risen with Him, walking in newness of life.
Our Lord’s Body is called the temple, because as the temple contained the glory of God dwelling therein, so the Body of Christ, which represents the Church, contains the Only-Begotten, Who is the image and glory of God.
Scripture from the Douay-Rheims Bible. Commentary from St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Vol. IV (London: Rivington, 1845).