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What Is Sacred to Me?
Friday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” And every day he was teaching in the temple area. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death, but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on his words.
Opening Prayer: Lord, help me to value not only the sacredness of my own person, but also the sacred space of the parish where I worship you in the Eucharist. Grant me a deeper consciousness of your continual presence.
- A House of Prayer: Over and over again in the Gospel accounts we see Jesus going off to pray in silence, preach in the synagogue, and go to the temple for worship. His attitude was obvious: he honored his Father and had a deep awareness of the sacred space of his own person and in places of worship reserved for the Father’s honor and glory. Jesus was so very conscious of his Father’s continual presence that he could enter the chamber of his heart alone and be with his Father for long periods of time. How can we imitate Jesus in his constant communion with the Father? How can we protect the sacredness of our prayer time and our reverence for the church in which we worship?
- A Den of Thieves: By virtue of original sin we are wounded and tend toward concupiscence. Our souls, and even our church, can sometimes seem like a den of thieves with attitudes, vices, and spirits that undermine our sacredness, our intimacy with God, and our reverence for the house of God. Jesus asks us to look intently at him and allow him to expose those interior spaces which require renovation. He will do the heavy lifting if we allow him to show us where we need to do the spiritual work.
- Resistance or Openness?: The chief priests, scribes, and leaders of the people didn’t accept the message and actions of Jesus and immediately dismissed him as a radical and fanatic, without just reason. His listeners, however, were amazed by Jesus and hung on his every word. Jesus fed their souls, their hopes, and their lives. Every day Jesus is teaching in the temples of our lives. He is accessible at daily Mass, in adoration chapels, and through the charity of others we meet. We are called to be good “students” of the Master: to be attentive to the message he wants us to learn each day, each moment. God plans to give us all the grace we need to join him one day in heaven. All we need do is pay attention.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I want to grow in the awe of the dignity and sacredness of my person and allow that to translate into how I worship and honor you in the life of the church. Help me to say no to all sin and vice—those thieves seeking to steal my heart from you!
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray in a place (whether at home or at church) where I put all distractions aside so as to be fully present to you.
Further Resources: A great book that can help in growing sacred awareness is The Eight Doors of the Kingdom: Meditations on the Beatitudes by Father Jacques Philippe, especially Chapter 6 on the beatitude “Happy are the pure of heart.”
Father Todd Arsenault, LC, was ordained in 2005 and served for fourteen years in Ontario, Canada, as a spiritual director and retreat master. He recently moved to Rome to begin a two-year licentiate in Spiritual Theology.