Once a Den of Thieves

Luke 19: 45-48
1Mac 4:36-37,52-59/1Chr 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.
Never will it be stained again,
Or else Christ’s death would be in vain.

When Jesus entered the temple courts, 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 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 venal influences if we want to reach the level of holiness that God calls 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!

“My house” 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. Then one day, Jesus came and decided to take lodging in my heart. By the simple process of displacement, all the thieves were driven out. By the power of His Word and His indwelling Spirit, this house has now been swept clean; 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)

You tell me in today’s Gospel, Lord, that 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 Jesus is victory, as falling into sin is defeat. Come, Holy Spirit, always abide in my heart. Amen.

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