November 9, 2014 - Saint John Lateran, Year A
When Francis was elected as the Roman Pontiff to govern the universal church, the cardinals who elected him charged him with the task of reforming the Roman Curia.
A leading cardinal remarked, “There is no doubt that there needs to be renewal in the church, especially in the Vatican.”
In essence, the cardinals were telling Pope Francis to clean house. And he is.
Jesus is doing some house keeping of his own when he cleanses the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
In order to finance temple operations, the religious leaders had sanctioned the practice of holding market in the temple area.
In effect, they turned God’s house into a marketplace, a strip mall, to us use modern terms.
But the temple is the holy place where God dwells. It is not a marketplace. The temple is for worship, not for the buying and selling of goods.
So, the temple needed a good cleaning. And we want to try to leave it at that.
Francis, reform the church. Jesus, cleanse the temple. Father Richard, finish these restorations of this historically significant church building.
And then we say, “The house is in order and everything is alright.”
No. No, no, no. The cleansing, the reform, the restoration that is so desperately needed is the one that must happen to us. We are the temple that needs to be cleansed.
Saint Paul says, “Brothers and sisters, do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Holy Spirit dwells in you? You are God’s building.”
I am the temple that needs to be cleansed. You are the temple that needs to be cleaned.
It is my heart that needs to change. It is your heart that needs to change.
The Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome might be about a church building, the Cathedral Church of the Bishop of Rome.
But the readings call us and challenge us not to worry so much about church buildings, but to be more concerned about living temples.
Am I a living temple worthy of God’s Holy Spirit? No, probably not. And God’s grace does make up what is lacking.
But I must do my part to make myself a worthy temple where
God’s Holy Spirit can dwell.
Do I build my life carefully of the foundation of Jesus Christ? Is Jesus my rock, my fortress, my stronghold? Is Jesus the one I turn to in times of trouble?
Do I take care of my temple body? Do I get enough exercise, the right amount of sleep?
Am I concerned with curbing my bad habits of drinking too much, smoking, or using drugs that are harmful to me?
Do I take care of my temple soul, the holy of holies where the Lord God dwells?
Do I live justly? Do I love my neighbor as myself? Do I act with kindness and compassion?
Do I build a proper foundation with prayer and meditation, centering myself and placing myself in God’s presence, inviting God’s Holy Spirit to dwell in me?
Do I make an attempt to turn from sin, and in turning from sin, to return to the Lord?
The Roman Curia needs to be reformed. Yes indeed.
The Sacred Temple in Jerusalem needed to be cleaned. Yes indeed.
The Sacred Shrine, the Mother Church of Acadiana, needs to be restored. Yes indeed.
But more importantly, my body, my soul, my holy temple where God dwells needs to be cleansed.
It’s up to me to make my temple a place where God feels like a welcomed guest.