Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
Both readings for today's liturgy reference the Temple. In the first reading we hear of the rededication of the Temple, the event which is celebrated every year by our Jewish brothers and sisters in Hanukkah. The Gospel reading reminds us of the occasion when Jesus cleared it of the money changers and merchants. Both readings remind us of the centrality of the Temple in the lives of the Israelites. For these people, the Temple was the one place where they could come into direct contact with God. God lived in the Temple. The glory of God was visible in the Temple.
Christians have continued in the practice of building magnificent structures as monuments of faith and places of prayer. At the same time Christians realize that they themselves are Temples of the Holy Spirit, that through Baptism they have received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If one wishes to encounter God, one needs only to turn inward and quiet oneself in God's presence. God dwells among and in the people.
Our "house of prayer" is threatened by the same kinds of difficulties by which the Temple of Jerusalem was threatened. That is especially true at this time of the year when advertising media of all kinds are pummeling us with an incessant call to "buy, buy, buy." Just as the Church asks us to quietly consider the purpose of human life and the direction toward which it is headed, we find ourselves in a culture that would immerse us in the cares of this world. Perhaps it would do us all a little good if we, like Jesus, were to cleanse our inner Temple today and remind ourselves of the fact that like the magnificent structure of Jesus' time, our bodies are indeed "houses of prayer."