Having a “business meeting” (the “busy-ness” of God is always good!) we did not have our Encounter With Christ, but my daily meditation on the church’s readings were fruitful and offered a new glimpse into where I needed to move next in my quest for spiritual growth.
The first reading from Ezekiel 47;
Every month they shall bear fresh fruit,
for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary.
Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.
Then Psalm 46:
The waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High!
Celebrating a very special “Temple” in Rome, the Lateran Basilica, a special feast of a church that dates back to Constantine in the 300’s, we have a second reading for the feast (uncharacteristic of a daily mass) from 1 Corinthians:
Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God’s temple,
God will destroy that person;
for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.
Finally, the gospel from John 2:13:
Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.
The Jews said,
“This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,
and you will raise it up in three days?”
But he was speaking about the temple of his Body.
It isn’t difficult to discern that these readings are about another sacred dwelling for God, a temple, ourselves.
Even with the number of times I have read these passages in my life, I had a new meditation on this passage. Before, I saw Jesus rip through the temple area, where people were selling their birds and animals for offerings, and other items that were meant for worship and to revere God, however, it became a profit-seeking venture. My meditation usually stopped here with materialism in our culture. But there is so much more; in other words, not only was Jesus’s zeal in throwing over the vendor tables based in fulfilling ancient scripture about the Messiah to come (Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace; his disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me) but it was an act of great respect for the temple of God, his Father. As we are told in the second reading, WE are the temple. We all host the Holy Spirit in our hearts, God is in all of us, He created us as such, even if we are not aware.
I had an image of Jesus tearing down the vendor tables of my temple, my heart. What was being sold at those tables? If doves and things set for worship were not worthy of being sold outside the temple doors in scripture, what was being placed on the “altar of my heart” just outside the doors of my own temple? In my heart, I began to scour through all of my attachments, anything I might be giving precedence before God, prayer, or my vocation to serve my family. I love my little distractions and comforts; especially sleeping, binge watching Jane Austen movies. I love a little piece of chocolate, a glass of wine, and (here is where it gets ugly) some McDonald’s french fries. I admit it. These things are not “bad”, in measure, especially someone might laugh at what a nerd I am, compared to some other things going on in the world. It isn’t about that. It’s about what is distracting me right now, and what replaces God for me at times. When I go to comfort myself, instead of seek Him, where do I turn? Maybe for you it’s something more serious, maybe it’s a person, an addiction, a lie. We have all had moments in our lives where it was a darker place. Something that really took over and replaced God because we fed it, gave it room to grow, and nurtured it unknowingly. It doesn’t matter when we are sorry and really seek forgiveness; in God we have mercy.
My mom tells me that in Medjugorje (see previous posts) fasting is requested on Wednesdays and Fridays, in particular to honor God. Fasting doesn’t have to be from food, but from anything that may be a comfort or satiate us to replace prayer or time with God, or just to offer something to God that we like, but don’t need. So Friday, after this meditation, I didn’t let myself go back to sleep, even after these 5am wake up calls for the past couple of weeks for State and National competitions in my kids’ lives. On my way home from mass that day, I said, out loud, as I drove by McDonald’s, “Lord, I sure could use a chicken sandwich and fries right now, but I am gonna drive home and make a salad.” Now, maybe I have lost the graces from these sacrifices in the telling of it, but if I never tell of it, how would anyone know how to practically apply “offering up” something, to better benefit their temple, or clearing the “vendors” off the steps, if you didn’t have an idea of how to go about it? I am just learning too.
I will say this; the benefit of giving up something that comforts me, by comparison to the clarity that the spiritual graces that come for that day, are hard to describe. I was full of joy; elated and grateful. Satiated with the peace that only comes from God, not from the french fries, the nap I had missed, or even watching Pride and Prejudice for the 110th time (I tried twice this past weekend and fell asleep!) The graces are there. God sees the tiny offering you make, and multiplies it to level that brings glory to the world and those who seek Him. Which vendors do you need to evict from your temple these days?