Cleansing God’s Temple

Luke 19: 45-48
Rev 10:8-11 / Psa 119

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

Blessed is he with blameless ways,
All God’s decrees are his delight;
God purified him with His grace,
His temple God filled with His light.

When Jesus entered the temple court, He began to drive out those who were selling. “It is written,” He said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of thieves.’” Every day He was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill Him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on 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.

Today’s short Gospel account of Luke about the cleansing of the temple inspires us to see that our life is involved in a continuous process of purification. Most of the time it may involve pain and rejection, but it is necessary to purge our temple (our body) of all materialistic or venal influences if we want to reach the level of holiness that God calls us to attain. As St. Paul said, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1Cor.3:16)

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? Our church is the house of God, and only deserves our highest esteem and reverence.

Once upon a time, my own “house” used to be a “den of thieves”. All sorts of sins and vices once took quarters in it (including drugs and alcohol), and on my own efforts I could not rid it of its many impurities. 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. Then one day, Jesus came and decided to take lodging in my heart. By the simple principle of displacement, all the thieves were driven out. By the power of His Word and His indwelling Spirit, this house was swept clean. I now believe the Lord has made it into a temple of His graces. “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)

Father God, today’s Gospel reveals that my house, this temple of Your Holy Spirit must always be a house of prayer, because there is the danger that without prayers my body can turn into a ‘den of thieves’. Help me to be constant in my prayers, because to be faithful to Jesus is victory, as falling into sin is defeat. Come, Holy Spirit, always abide here in my heart. Amen.

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