Cleansing the Temple

Luke 19: 45-48
1 Mc 4: 36-37,52-59 / 1 Chr 29

My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.
(Luke 19:46)

This temple has been purified
By blood of Jesus crucified.
Remember if it’s stained again,
Christ’s death would then have been in vain.

Jesus entered the temple and began 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 He was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people sought to destroy Him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people hung upon His words. (Luke 19: 45-48)

Reflection

Our Lord Jesus was always faithful to Scriptures even when He had to take drastic measures against those who defiled God’s temple. As He drove the money changers out of the temple grounds, He quoted Isaiah (56:7: “My house shall be a house of prayer”), and Jeremiah (7:11: “Has this house which bears my name become in your eyes a den of thieves?”). By quoting Holy Scriptures, He made it clear that His actions were fully justified, because they were the fulfillment of the prophecies of those ancient heralds of God.

This Gospel account of Luke about the cleansing of the temple inspires us to see that life is a continuous process of purification. Most of the time it may involve pain and rejection, but it is necessary to purge our temple of all materialistic or carnal influences if we want to reach the level of holiness that God wants us to attain. It also tells us how serious a crime against God’s sacred institution is when we defile it with the commerce of a marketplace. Imagine mammon taking precedence over worship in the sacred place of worship? Such insult only deserves swift punishment!

St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body” (1Cor.6:19-20). My body used to be a “den of thieves”. All sorts of sins and vices once took quarters in it, and on my own efforts I could not rid it of its many iniquities. The vilest thief that once ruled the place was the sin of immorality, and many trusting hearts did that thief steal to satisfy its lust. I believe it was by the grace of the sacrament of Matrimony that the Holy Spirit came to take lodging in my heart. By the simple principle of displacement, all the thieves were driven out. And through the continuing influence of God’s Word, this “house” has now been swept clean; the Lord has made it His temple. “By wisdom a house is built, by discernment the foundation is laid; by knowledge its storerooms filled with riches of every kind, rare and desirable.” (Prov.24:3-4) These are what the Lord has done, and “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.” (Psalm 23:6)

As I relate it in today’s Gospel, Lord, my house, this temple of Your Holy Spirit must always be a house of prayer, because there is always the danger that without prayers my body can turn into a ‘den of thieves’. Help me to be vigilant in my prayers, because to be faithful to You is victory, as falling into sin is defeat. Come, Holy Spirit, always abide in my heart. Amen.

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