“…You are God’s Temple…”
How very appropriate that the readings of today focus on the prominence of the temple in both Hebrew and Christian scripture. Churches, Temples, Synagogue, and Mosques have been and remain centers of faith traditions throughout the centuries. With the establishment of the covenant between Yahweh and the Israelite community, their leaders desired to build a place for the Arch of the Covenant to reside, as a sign of the presence of Yahweh. Several times Yahweh communicated rather emphatically the he did not want a building, a place. However, over the course of years the temple in Jerusalem was built, destroyed and rebuilt. The community was determined to have a place. It can be easier to think of God being in a tangible place, a building.
The image of temple is rich and strong and central to scripture. It indicates the presence of Yahweh. In the Israelite community the temple area was a place not only of commerce and community gathering, but also a place of sacrifice, purification, thanksgiving, atonement and worship. It was a place of priestly priority. It was in the temple precincts that the “Holy of Holies” resided – separate and apart from the people, but accessible to the priests. Above all else it was where the Israelite people intersected with Yahweh. They went to the temple to offer sacrifice, to worship, to atone for misdeeds. Going up to the temple is a recurring and significant event in the life of the Israelite community.
It is often the same today, we go to the Church in order to worship, to atone, to intersect with God.
Jesus’ frustration and anger was not solely at the use of the temple for commercial endeavors. It was appropriate for the money changes to be present. They were there to offer service to the foreigner traveler who would need appropriate currency in which to purchase the sacrificial offering. Jesus’ anger was at the misuse of the temple areas. Any cheating of the poor or foreign traveler would have angered Jesus. The temple was more than a marketplace. Jesus was angry about the separation of the Holy of Holies from the people. There was no open door policy for the people to access the sanctuary of the temple.
I would suggest that Jesus was also frustrated at the narrow understanding of what temple meant and indicated – then and now. Jesus was trying to tell the people that he, himself, was the temple of his Father, of God. They did not understand nor appreciate the significance of what he meant.
Jesus is telling me today, that I too am a temple of the Holy Spirit, of God. Being created in the image of God, I am a blessed temple. It is very difficult and overwhelming to appreciate what that means to me in my relationship with Jesus. “I am a temple?”
By my very being I glorify God as does all creation. As a conscious being I am able and called and invited to respond to the indwelling of God, to being a temple in a personal, unique and intimate way. I am invited to participate in the ongoing creation of the kingdom. What does all this mean? How can it be? What am I to do?
I invite you to sit in silence – in your most favorite and comfortable prayer place. Just be in the silence. I invite you God to fill me with your presence. I ask to experience being temple. I take as long as I like. As often as I like. Afterwards, I have a conversation with Jesus about my experience. I savor it, carry it with me all day! I enjoy it! I let the challenge of it enkindle me.
Today’s Good News “I am a temple of the Spirit!”
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