Thursday, April 5, 2018

Christ: the Temple of God

MARCH 4, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

Last Sunday, Jesus was transfigured before his disciples. His face shone like the sun and his clothes became dazzlingly white. By this, he revealed to his disciples his glory as God the Son. A shining cloud descended and enveloped him in the very same way that the cloud of God’s presence descended upon the Temple on the day it was consecrated by Solomon: “The cloud filled the temple of the Lord so that the priests could no longer minister because of the cloud, since the Lord’s glory filled the temple.” God, who cannot be contained by the highest heaven, decided to dwell in the temple built by Solomon. (1 Kings 8) The Temple is the consecrated place where God dwells among his people.

Jesus is truly the Temple of God because in him dwells the fullness of the Divinity. This is the reason why he said: “Destroy this temple and in 3 days I will raise it up…he was speaking about the temple of his body.” After the transfiguration, Jesus admonished his disciple not to tell anyone of what they have seen until he has risen from the dead. This is because they will understand the glory that they saw in Jesus only after the resurrection has taken place. In the same manner, the disciples understood Jesus’ words about the temple being destroyed and rebuilt only after the resurrection: “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.”

St. Paul tells us that we, baptized Christians, are also temples of God. This is because at our Baptism, God the Holy Spirit descended upon us and made his dwelling in us. This is the reason why we must strive to be pure as Christ is pure. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Cor. 6:17-20) In the Gospel, the Lord Jesus was driven by holy zeal as he cleansed the temple of everything that should not be found in it: “Take these out of here and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace. His disciples remembered the word of Scripture, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’” The Temple of Jerusalem was the Father’s house. Jesus’ body was the Temple of God the Son. We, baptized Christians, are Temples of God the Holy Spirit. In the manner that the Father’s house was cleansed by Jesus and he kept himself pure, so also Jesus desires that we be cleansed for God’s Temple is holy and we are that Temple. As water washes away impurities, so also the waters of Baptism cleansed us and made us temples of God. The waters of sorrow for sins, the tears of compunction, also cleanse us and make us worthy dwellings of the Holy Spirit. Thus, it is important to regularly examine our conscience so that we can detect impurities within us that should be cleansed by confession. We examine our conscience by measuring our lives according to the 10 commandments revealed to us by the first reading.

Jesus made a whip out of cords and drove out from the temple area everything that did not belong to the holiness of the temple. In the same manner, we must use a whip of cords to drive out from the temples of our bodies everything that should not be found in it. The whip of cords would be our acts of penance and mortification: fasting, abstinence, prayer, almsgiving, whole hearted acceptance of sufferings…these penitential acts cleanse us and keep us pure as temples of the Holy Spirit. By these acts of penance we proclaim in our bodies the death of Jesus. We die to ourselves and we die to the world. “We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called…Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

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

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