33rd Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Rev 10:8-11
I, John, heard a voice from heaven speak to me. Then the voice spoke to me and said: “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” So I went up to the angel and told him to give me the small scroll. He said to me, “Take and swallow it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will taste as sweet as honey.” I took the small scroll from the angel’s hand and swallowed it. In my mouth it was like sweet honey, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Then someone said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”
Gospel: Lk 19:45-48
Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” And every day he was teaching in the temple area. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death, but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on his words.
A FOCUS ON WHAT IS IMPORTANT: Pope Francis, while hosting a lunch for the poor in the town of Assisi on October 04, 2013, said that the Catholic Church must strip itself of all vanity, arrogance and pride, and refocus herself to serve the poor. Jerusalem temple was a place of sacrifice in order to seek communion with God and the community. In the course of time the focus got shifted to the business of buying and selling. Therefore, Jesus cleaned the temple declaring, “My house will be called a house of prayer.” The Church needs to focus on obtaining gender parity, economic justice, social equity and accessibility to human rights. In this refocusing mission of Jesus, the people were on the side of Jesus where as the chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people were against Jesus. To which camp do we belong to?
Prayer: Lord, we pray that we may obtain the grace to be a part in the refocusing mission of Jesus today.
A PLACE OF WORSHIP: People like what is familiar. That is how the community is accustomed to meeting God. The Temple is where God dwells, the connecting point where Heaven and earth meet (Acts. 7:49). Therefore, with the temple desecrated, the words of Jews were askew. The reintroduction of the purified worship in the temple in the first reading reflects our Africanism: honour to our places of worship. This resonates with the act of Jesus in the Gospel on matters of worship. Hymns, liturgical gestures and words of prayer, generate in us familiar sights and sounds, as well as traditional stories, whose language is all worship). May we never desecrate our places of worship by making it a den of thieves (Mt. 21:13).
PRAYER: Almighty God, make my heart your dwelling place.
BUILDING HIS TEMPLE THE HARD WAY: He was ready to take the oppressors head on! He went into a demolition mode. No, it was not really demolition but an attempt to reclaim God’s House. It was a risky affair because chief priests and the powerful were always on the look- out for him to kill him. So it is incredibly bold of Jesus to do what he did. It was hard. Zeal for God’s house should burn in us. Let us not be stuck on the structure of the temple, but let a holy zeal for the Lord’s people consume us. Reminder of St. Paul: Don’t you know that you are that Temple and the Spirit of God dwells in you.” If only we could save this temple from the slippery slope of degeneration and coldness!
MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER: Jesus has made a solemn entry into Jerusalem. The first thing he does is to enter into the temple and purify it, with an aim of re-establishing the original purpose of the temple: to be a house of prayer (for all nations – Mt 21:13). This act is the beginning of the tension between Jesus and the leaders of the Jews which will eventually lead to the death of Jesus. However, what is at the heart of the act of cleansing the temple? Jesus is once again reiterating the heart of his mission; to re-establish the covenant between God and human beings. The religious rituals, the laws, the religious institutions, and the temple itself had neglected the centrality of the covenant. Therefore, Jesus wants to re-establish the original purpose. What about my own religious sentiments; do I keep my relationship with God at the centre of all that I do?