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God’s Presence in Your Life
Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me. At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his Body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.
Opening Prayer: Holy Spirit, fill my body which is your temple; cleanse it from what is insulting to you; take possession of every corner of my life.
- The Splendor of the Temple: Walking through the impressive structures of the Temple of Jerusalem must have had an overwhelming effect on everyone—the several courts with their respective classes of people admitted there; the endless corridors and galleries of marble columns stretched out through the space flowing into a wide, but at the same time, enclosed sacred room; the massive walls towering over a stream of countless pilgrims filing through the building to perform the prescribed rituals. What a display of cult and service! Experiencing it must have made the religious fibers of every visitor gleam.
- And Jesus?: The passage tells us of Jesus’s rage at the sight of the commercial abuse of the sacred space. Questioned about his authority on the matter, he drew the definitive relation between the Temple and his own body. But evidently, he did not simply consider himself to be the New Temple to replace the old; if so, the old one could have been dismissed and its abuse disregarded. Rather, Jesus’s Incarnation fulfilled what was already symbolized and savored in that ancient building: God lives among his people. Whoever has known Jesus to be true God and true man senses what that means. He himself, first and foremost, felt how the abuse of the sacredness of the Temple went directly against who he was himself: the presence of God, no longer in stone but in flesh. The insult against the “concept” of the Temple was an insult against Jesus’s message about God’s presence on earth.
- Nothing as Sacred as the Body of Christ: Nowhere else is Jesus as present as in the Holy Eucharist. And precisely through the mystery of the Incarnation and of the Eucharist, he teaches us that he does not shun the material and human ways of being present and making himself available to us. Thus, we ought never to transform any corner of our lives into a profane marketplace where he would not feel comfortable. Every courtyard in the temple of our lives has the dignity and potential for him to dwell there. We do not want to restrict his presence to Sundays, nor to times of prayer and Mass, nor to the moments when we are among like-minded people: All corners of our lives must be open to him.
Conversing with Christ: My Lord, take my body and my life. Dwell in every chamber of my heart. Make me into a sign of your presence in this world. Amen.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will look for corners of my daily life in which I have not welcomed your presence.
For Further Reflection: “Jesus’s attitude, recounted in today’s evangelical page, exhorts us to live our lives seeking not our own advantage and interests, but for the glory of God who is love. We are called to always keep present those strong words of Jesus: ‘You shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade!’ (v. 16). It’s awful when the church slips on this attitude of making God’s house a market. These words help us to reject the danger of making our soul, which is God’s abode, a marketplace, living in constant search for our benefit instead of in generous and solidary love. This teaching of Jesus is always timely, not only for the ecclesial communities but also for individuals, for civil communities, and for society. In fact, the temptation to take advantage of good activities, sometimes dutiful, is common, to cultivate private if not outright unlawful interests. It’s a grave danger, especially when it instrumentalizes God himself and the worship due to him, or the service to man, his image. That’s why Jesus used ‘strong ways’ that time, to shake us from this mortal danger” (Pope Francis, Angelus address on March 4, 2018: Complete address).
Written by Fr. Gabriel von Wendt, LC.