Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
November 18th, 2011

Kevin Kersten, S.J.

Academic Affairs
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Friday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time
[501] 1 Maccabees 4:36-37, 52-59
1 Chronicles 29:10bcd, 11abc, 11d-12a, 12bcd
Luke 19:45-48

The Temples of ancient cultures were holy, consecrated places standing prominently at a city’s center, on high ground.   The Jewish community referred to Solomon’s Great Temple in Jerusalem as the “Holy of Holies.”  It was their most sacred place for prayer and sacrifice, their most treasured place to gather as God’s people, the place where God dwelled.

Mary brought her infant Son Jesus to that Temple, and the Church celebrates the event every year on the feast called The Presentation (February 2nd).  There also, as a twelve-year-old boy, Jesus engaged the Pharisees and Temple priests in precocious dialogue, demonstrating Wisdom beyond His years  [Lk 2: 41-52].  At the start of His public life, right after His baptism, the devil took Our Lord from the desert to a parapet atop that Temple and used scripture to tempt Him.  The Lord rebuked him with another scriptural passage, and the temptation failed flat out.

The Temple was the main site of Our Lord’s public ministry in Jerusalem.  Particularly toward the end, “He was teaching [there] every day” (Lk 19:47).  He often prayed at night on the Mount of Olives, then at dawn walked across the Kidron valley and up to the Temple precincts.

John the Evangelist describes Jesus unleashing the full force of his zeal when, the day before the Last Supper, He saw the temple priests and money changers in this holy place, desecrating it with crass, exploitive commercialism:  He picked up a leather cord for a whip, lashed it at them, and capsized their money tables saying, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you make it a den of thieves” (Mt 21:13).  Luke’s version – our passage today (Lk 19:45-48) – adds: “The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death.”  Some scholars make this event in the Temple the inciting incident of the Lord’s final hours.

Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem was a particularly appropriate symbol for Our Lord’s claim, “He who see me, sees the Father.”  He knew the Father dwelled in Him as He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up!” [Jn 2:19]  St. Paul called us the Body of Christ from the time Our Lord said to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”   That question led Paul, in several of his letters, to call us God’s Temple:

  1. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”
  2. “If anyone destroys God’s Temple, God will destroy that person.  For God’s Temple is holy, and you are that temple!”
  3. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?”
  4. “What agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

As temples of God, we must remain fit and always become more holy.  From time to time, we need to make changes in our lives – sometimes small, sometimes radical.   It may be that all we need is the grace to be aware of the need for change, or we may need our tables overturned.  We need not fear in either case, for Christ is committed to remain at our side to help us make whatever change of habit or heart that is needed. 

It is well to remember that the effort itself is formative.  That is what God is asking from us.

Our job will always be to keep our minds and hearts attentive to why God makes us a temple in the first place:  to receive God’s love and to return it by sharing it with others: our families and close circles of friends, our collaborators at work, the needy on the street, in the hospitals, soup kitchens, classrooms, or at any cross-roads we come to.   God made us because God loves us.  With that love comes a call:  to be holy, prayerful, and ready to love others, even to the point of sacrificing ourselves for their sake.  This call enables God to reach out, through us, with love for them and to help them become Holy.   This is how the Kingdom of God grows.

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