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A House of Prayer
Friday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
Then he went into the Temple and began driving out those who were busy trading, saying to them, “According to Scripture, my house shall be a house of prayer but you have turned it into a bandits’ den.” He taught in the Temple every day. The chief priests and the scribes, in company with the leading citizens, tried to do away with him, but they could not find a way to carry this out because the whole people hung on his words.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, increase my faith in you. Grant that I may not treat your house of prayer like a bandit’s den, but rather a place of true worship.
1. A Brief History: Long before King Solomon built the Temple, God had instructed the people to construct a Tent of Meeting to hold the Ark of the Covenant. According to tradition, the Ark contained the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod, and a pot of manna. The Ten Commandments are God’s spoken law engraved in stone. Aaron’s rod represents the fruitfulness of the tribe of Levi, the tribe dedicated exclusively to the priesthood. The manna is the bread that came down from Heaven to sustain the Israelites in their forty years of wandering the desert when they fled slavery from Egypt around the 13th century B.C. All this is a reminder of the covenant that God established with his chosen people, to preserve true worship so as to be a light for the nations. Three centuries later, King Solomon would finally build a permanent home for the Ark—the Temple.
2. A Place of Prayer: As we have seen on previous days, the Temple was the central place of worship for the Jewish people. But above all, it was a place where souls could go to be sure that their heartfelt prayer to God would be heard. Upon installing the Ark in the Holy of Holies, King Solomon, by his testimony of prayer, revealed the Temple as a place of heartfelt prayer to God, that he may continue to dwell among them (1 Kings 8:27-30):
“But will God indeed dwell upon the earth? Even Heaven, the highest Heaven, cannot contain you, much less this temple I have built. Yet regard the prayer and plea of your servant, O LORD my God, so that you may hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying before you today. May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you may hear the prayer that your servant prays toward this place. Hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. May you hear from Heaven, your dwelling place. May you hear and forgive.”
3. The Whole People Hung on His Words: Jesus saw how the house of the Father was being abused. Its use was being thwarted, and when Jesus corrected those who detracted from its purpose, they wanted to lash out and “do away with him.” But animosity cannot thwart the purpose for which God comes to dwell among us. Thanks to his redemptive death, the Holy Spirit established the Church where God’s presence dwells among us through his true Presence, the “manna” come down from Heaven. This is thanks to the new priesthood instituted by Christ himself. He also dwells among us in his word proclaimed in the holy liturgy. We gather in the temple of the Church to worship and to “hang onto” Jesus’ word so that he continues to dwell among us through faith and in grace. By this testimony, all nations will know that Jesus is Lord.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, you dwell among us in your Eucharist and your word. Send your Spirit to increase our faith in you. Hear our prayer as we cry out for those who do not believe in you. May our faith, prayer, and worship be a testimony for all nations.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reflect on my participation in the Church’s mission of prayer for the salvation of all nations.
For Further Reflection: What Constitutes a Practicing Catholic? by Fr. Mike Schmitz, and Nine Days to Christ the King Day Novena, Day 8
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala and “Nine Days with Mary Magdalene.”
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