The Cleansing of the Temple

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

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

As God’s Word pours out like concrete
To build our “temple’s” foundation
Our prayers and good works complete
Our spiritual transformation.

Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling things. “It is written,” He said to them, “’My house shall 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 seeking to put Him to death. But they could find no way to accomplish their purpose, because all the people were hanging 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 merchants out of the temple grounds, He quoted Isaiah: “My house shall be a house of prayer” (Isa 56:7), and Jeremiah: “Has this house which bears my name become in your eyes a den of thieves?” (Jer 7:11). By quoting Holy Scriptures, Jesus 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 brief Gospel account of Luke about the cleansing of the temple inspires us to believe that all of us undergo a continuous process of purification. The Word of God (the Bible) is not only a great source of inspiration, but its lessons also strengthen the foundation of our faith. Still, with God’s grace, we strive to purge our temple of all materialistic and venal influences in order to reach the level of holiness that God wants us to attain. Today’s Gospel also reveals how serious a crime against God’s sacred institution is (the Church) when we defile it with the commerce of a marketplace. Can you imagine mammon taking precedence over GOD in the sacred place of worship? We must keep holy both our spiritual and physical temples. Both are dwelling places of God.

My own “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 demons. 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 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 has now been swept clean; the Lord has transformed it into the temple of His Holy Spirit. Now, every day, before taking our lunch, my wife and I go to the noon mass of our parish church nearby, and receive our Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. This habit we have faithfully practiced through the years to ensure that our temples will never be defiled by sin again.

“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, just as falling into sin is defeat. Come, Holy Spirit, always dwell within. Amen.

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