Sunday, March 11, 2012

The True Temple, Sacrifice, and Priest

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

The Lord Jesus expressed the deepest respect for the Temple in Jerusalem. “Jesus went up the Temple as the privileged place of encounter with God. For him, the Temple was the dwelling of his Father, a house of prayer, and he was angered that its outer court had become a place of commerce. He drove merchants out of it because of jealous love for his Father: ‘You shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’ His disciples remembered that it was written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’” (CCC, 584.) It was out of jealous love for his Father that he drove merchants out of the Temple. He would not allow the merchants to transform the house of God into the house of mammon. “You cannot serve both God and mammon.” If one is to serve God, then he must serve only God. “You shall have no other gods besides me…for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.”

In this day and age of political correctness, this idea of a jealous God is difficult to uphold. The idea of the plurality and equality of all religions will find the idea of a jealous God rather repulsive – it would immediately be judged as narrow-mindedness, fundamentalism, and simply unenlightened. We should be tolerant of religious differences, so we are told. After all, the Catholic Church, according to a lady senator, does not have the monopoly of the truth.

But have we ever asked: Why is there so much insistence in the jealousy of God? Definitely, it is not on account of the insecurity of a power-tripping god. Rather, God does not want us to have other gods beside him because such is the truth: THERE IS NO OTHER GOD BESIDE HIM. There is only one God living and true. “God is unique; there is only one God.” (CCC, 200) The others are pretenders, fakes, and liars. And it is very dangerous to worship false gods simply because false gods do not deliver. “They have eyes but see not, ears but hear not. They have nostrils but there is no breath of life in them.” False gods cannot save simply because they cannot do it. Mammon cannot save you. The world cannot save you. You cannot save yourself. Worshipping false gods is like worshipping no god at all. False gods cannot save you. Only the true God can do this.

In order to protect us from the deception of pretenders, Jesus presents himself to us as the true Temple where we encounter the true and living God: “Destroy this temple and in 3 days I will raise it up…He was speaking about the temple of his body.” In Jesus dwells the fullness of the Divinity. He is God the Son who is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit in essence, substance or nature (CCC, 202.) When we go to Jesus, we shall definitely know the Father because “no one knows the Father except the Son and everyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” When we go to Jesus, we shall definitely encounter the Father, for “he who has seen (him) sees the Father.” When we go to Jesus, we shall definitely reach the Father, for “no one can come to the Father except through (him).”

And to make sure that the Jesus we approach is the real one, we have to be faithful to what we have received from the Apostles: “we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles, but to those who are called, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” The crucified Christ is the true Christ – one whose Temple (body) was destroyed but was raised up in 3 days.

And this is why, as Peter said last Sunday, “it is good for us to be here.” It is good for us to be here because we stand before the true Christ – the true Temple, the true Sacrifice, the true Priest. Because Christ is the true Temple, we are sure that we encounter the true God. Because Christ is the true Sacrifice, we dare approach the Father with the one Offering that is pleasing to him. Because Christ is the true Priest, we are sure that our worship is accepted “for there is only one Mediator between God and man: the man Jesus Christ.”

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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