Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
The Lord Jesus was greatly displeased when he saw the merchants who sold animals for sacrifice and the money changers in the temple area. So displeased was he that he made a whip out of cords and drove away the merchants with their animals and overturned the tables of the money changers. This part of the life of Christ is called the cleansing of the temple. The Lord cleansed the temple of everything which does not belong to it. Consumed by zeal for the house of God, Jesus cleansed the temple of the things that hid its real identity. For many people, the temple was the place they fulfilled their religious obligations. For others, it was a venue for trade and profit, literally a marketplace. But for Christ, the temple was the House of his Father: “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” Jesus loved the temple on account of the One who dwelt there: his heavenly Father. When he was a young 12 year old boy, unknown to Mary and Joseph, Jesus remained in the temple because “I have to go about doing my Father’s business.” Thus, by cleansing the temple of the merchants and moneychangers, Jesus showed all people that the real splendor of the temple is not in the precious stones that adorned its walls. The real splendor of the temple is its holiness which is derived from the One who dwells in it: God himself. “The temple of God is holy,” said St. Paul in the 2nd reading.
This is what it means when we celebrate the consecration of a temple. When a temple is consecrated, it becomes a building set apart exclusively for divine service. To consecrate a temple is to offer a building to the Lord. Thus, the temple becomes holy because the God who dwells in it is holy. When we say that God is holy, we mean that God is unlike any of his creatures. Thus, when we say that the temple of God is holy, we mean that this building is unlike any other buildings. This is not a place for socials. We do not come here to meet people. We do not come here to meet the priest. We come here to meet the Lord and to enter into communion with him. Thus, at the beginning of the Mass, we are greeted with: the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you!
In this temple, the center of everybody’s attention is the Lord. The object of worship done in this place is the Lord. The orientation of this building and everyone who enters here is the presence of the Lord. Here, we cease looking at ourselves. Here, we cease looking at one another. Here, we look at the Lord who in turn, looks at us. Here, we do not talk to ourselves. Here, we do not converse with each other. Here, we engage in a loving conversation with the Lord. This loving conversation is called “prayer.” Thus, as the Lord Jesus purified the temple of everything that does not belong to God, so also we must purify this temple of everything that hinders us from being absolutely oriented to the presence of God. We must rid ourselves of everything that defiles the holiness of this house of God: all thoughts, conversations, and behaviors that do not speak of God nor reflect the holiness of the Lord. Unfortunately, we behave only between the start of the Mass and its end. Outside the Mass, we move about in this church as if it were an ordinary building. If the priest is not looking, we act as if we ignore the abiding presence of the Lord in this place. We talk and talk and talk as if the owner of this house were not here. And remember, the owner of this house is not the priest. Nor are the people who built this temple. Because this place is consecrated to the Lord, it now belongs to the Lord. Let us keep it this way. Perhaps, we should always listen to the word of the Lord as being addressed to us: “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” Let us be consumed by zeal for the house of the Lord. The temple of God us holy!
Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!