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Posts Tagged ‘rebuilding the Temple’


Friday, May 22, 2020hamikdash21[1]Haggai 2:15-19

Promise of Immediate Blessings

This is good news!  Commentary tells us that we should read this citation along with Chapter 1: The Exhortation to Rebuild the Temple. After the destruction and capture and exile by the Babylonians, the Jewish people were finally allowed to return in groups to Judah, but they had a good deal of trouble in rebuilding their temple and themselves. We can read about this in Ezra and Nehemiah.

The Samaritans in the northern part of the former Jewish territory who had intermingled with non-Jews have become the enemies of Jews returning to their home in the southern region of Judah.  These Samaritans now block the way home for the returning exiles.  In a time of return from deportation when we might imagine a new joy rising from the hearts of the Israelites, it is instead corruption and idol worship that they experience.  In a time when physical and emotional fatigue from the return journey sap the strength of God’s people, they are called to dig deep into their inner selves to find the energy to rebuild.  Yet despite the energy they expend in their struggle to return to their Jerusalem home, the faithful find the wherewithal to rebuild.  They rely on their custom of maintaining contact with Yahweh through exile. They are an exhausted people who return from the north and yet here the prophet Haggai entreats the people to rebuild what was lost and he promises that there will be immediate joy.  We might feel tired just thinking of the turmoil, disappointment and suffering they experience.  We also might feel their hope, animation and sense of fulfillment.

This is a story that inspires.

Some of this prophecy (in particular the portion of chapter 2 just before today’s reading) takes the form of a “torah” or instruction given by a priest and so it carries particular significance. We are reminded that we are nothing if not first thought and then created by God. We are exhorted to re-build the old temple and to rebuild ourselves.  We are reminded that God will fill us with the persistence and fortitude to answer this call.  We are told that there is one to come who will shepherd his sheep in their return to an old home in a new spirit.

As we near the end of this Eastertide in the midst of pandemic, we have journeyed for two months of celebration in the most unusual of ways. We experience both the death of a hope and the birth of a new way of living, and throughout these weeks, we have always had the intimate presence of the resurrected Christ who arrives as fulfillment of all the prophets have predicted.  Jesus is the new temple, and we are the building blocks.  He is the promise, and we are the beneficiaries.  He is the blessing, and we are the blessed.  As we return from our own personal exiles, may we live up to this promise.  And so we pray . . .

Dear and gracious Lord, you have called us back from our time of exile.  You have offered us transformation and new life.  You have filled us with new energy and new strength.  May we live up to the potential we embody.  May we learn to be true, living stones in your temple.  And may we experience the joy of your immediate blessing.  Amen. 


Adapted from a Noontime first written on May 17, 2007.

Image from http://www.israelvideonetwork.com/rebuilding-the-temple-in-jerusalem

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Mark 13:1-2: Following Christrebuildingthetemple

Saturday, September 5, 2015

From time to time we reflect on the establishment of the Temple in Jerusalem; today we look at the foretelling of its destruction and rebuilding in a new way.  The people who hear Jesus misunderstand him completely.  The apostles ask Jesus to describe what will happen and he does; but they find it difficult to comprehend.  They are thinking with a mind of this world which regards wealth, fame and good looks as the standards with which we measure success.  Jesus, of course, speaks of the wealth of the real world, the world of the true and everlasting kingdom.

Yesterday’s Mass readings reminded us about what is real and what is unreal.  Amos 6, Psalm 146, 1 Timothy 6:11-16, and Luke 16:19-31.  Today’s Morning Prayer takes us to Matthew 6:19-21, do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth . . . , and Matthew 19:21, if you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then, come, follow me.

Jesus is constantly reminding us, through the losses we suffer, that nothing we store up here will be taken with us.  It is our behavior we will wear in the next world, and that we actually wear in this one, that describes who and what we are. The clothes we see ourselves wearing today are not the clothes of the world Jesus describes. It is the actions we initiate, and the perseverance with which we persist, that will mark us as the perfect faithful.  It is the fidelity we exercise, the hope we engender, and the charity toward enemies that mark us as those who have given away all they formerly had to follow Christ . . . and that make us living stones of the Living Temple.  These stones will never be thrown down, never be torn asunder, never be scorched by the fires of destruction.  They will remain with and in Christ forever.

This is the Jesus who explains reality to the faithful. This is the Jesus who is the new temple. This is the Jesus we willingly follow.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 27.9 (2010). Print.  

A favorite from September 27, 2010.

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Mark 12:35-44: Comparison

James C Christenen: The Widow's Mite

James C. Christensen: The Widow’s Mite

Monday, August 31, 2015

As we continue to study the Gospel of Mark, we are struck again by his immediacy and precision; and we see how Jesus turns stark divisions into unifying calls. 

The widow we meet today who gives from her poverty is seen in sharp contrast to the scribes who give from their surplus.  Jesus as the son of God is also juxtaposed against those who would be servants but who are more enamored of status, money and place.  The obvious lesson here is understood quickly, even by children.  The widow’s contribution – small as it is – is worth as much and perhaps even more than the large amount given by others from their surplus; and the widow herself is as valuable, or more, as those who profess great learning and experience.  We can see that this portion of Mark’s Gospel asks us to take a deep look to examine our own status, our own motivations, our own spiritual life in Christ.  The more obscure lesson is this: We ought not to worry if we only have two cents when come forward to add to God’s treasury . . . God is counting on this small gift to appear and God has a plan for this small gift which we cannot see from where we stand.

My dad, the oldest of eleven, always used to say that when we compare ourselves to others we will always come up way short of some and way ahead of others.  He would encourage us to compare what we have done in a day to what we might have done on a good day.  He asked that we measure ourselves against our own potential.  He directed us to steer well clear of comparing ourselves to others in any way with the words: You have no way of knowing what God knows.  And when he himself became frustrated with life and with what he believed to be his own weaknesses, he would often murmur repeatedly in low words:  God only knows.  Only God knows.  God only knows.  Only God knows. 

My mother, born the seventh of eleven, was fond of telling us – when we balked at going somewhere we thought we might be bored – Did you ever stop to think that God might have need of you today?  Did it ever occur to you that your presence has a purpose even when you do not see it?  Maybe you are being asked to bring something you do not realize you have.  Go and find out what it is.  And so we would go . . . and we always found out that yes, we had two cents, and they belonged in God’s treasury.

When we believe that the efforts we make are puny in attempting to answer God’s call, we might remember the contributions of the scribes and the widow.

When we fear that we have erred in responding to God’s call, we might remember that Jesus sees all of us, knows our worth and values our gifts accordingly.

When we feel that we have somehow gotten things wrong, that we have misunderstood the instructions we think we hear, we might remember that with God, our two cents are worth worlds . . . because we have come to God, trusted God and loved God.

And so we pray.

Precious God, We know that we often misunderstand messages.  We sometimes doubt our ability to hear you clearly.  We also know that we ought to be wary of those wearing robes for the sake of show.  We sometimes become enamored of the robes ourselves.  We always know that when you destroy temples you also rebuild them in days . . . deep within our hearts.  Continue to guide us as we filter through the pageantry of life to find that which is worth more than the mere two-cent value it appears to have at first glance.  Help us to compare ourselves to our own work rather than to the work of others.  Lead us to your way of seeing and thinking.  Lead us to your way of trusting and believing.  Lead us always back to you.  Amen. 

A favorite from August 23, 2009.

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rainbow and castleTuesday, June 10, 2014

1 Chronicles 28:20

Hope and Steadfastness

When we consider the factors that move us to hope in some one or some thing, we may have difficulty mustering the steadfastness we will need to rest in God’s hope. Yet for millennia God has assured us that trust in God’s presence and encouragement in God are hallmarks of the faithful. Over the last few weeks we have contemplated John’s first letter to Jesus’ disciples. This week we continue to look for the many times we have been supported and guided as God’s precious children.

Be firm and steadfast; go to work without fear or discouragement, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. God will not fail you or abandon you before you have completed all the work for the service of the house of the Lord. (Verse 28:20)

The prophet Haggai records God’s words: Take courage, declares the Lord, and work; for I am with you. (Haggai 2:4)

As the people consider the immense work of rebuilding the Temple, the prophet Zechariah tells us: Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Let your hands be strong, you who are listening in these days to these words from the mouth of the prophets, those who spoke in the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, to the end that the temple might be built”. (Zechariah 8:9)

Isaiah encourages us in times of difficulty: Be strong, do not fear, your God will come . . . God will come to save you (Isaiah 35:4)

Daniel hears God’s words: Be strong, now, be strong! (Daniel 10:19)

Finally, St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians: Be strong in the Lord and in God’s mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6)

And so we pray: Wherever we are, whatever we experience, no matter what day or time, God is with us to animate and reassure us. God is unwavering. God is forgiving. God is hope and light and truth. And these hopes, this light, these truths will not be extinguished by any power in any time. In this then, let us take refuge. In this then, let us in turn give encouragement to others. In this then, let us abide with those in need as God abides with us. In this then, let us teach our children and even our children’s children. Amen.

Click on the scripture links above and read other versions of these verses; and let us consider how God speaks to us of hope and steadfastness. OR, enter the words hope and steadfastness into the blog search bar and reflect on how often, when and where and why God encourages us as we set to work building the kingdom.

Tomorrow, David’s words to his son Solomon. A guide to address our own children.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Three Days

The Messiah's Dialog with the Pharisees

The Messiah’s Dialog with the Pharisees

Matthew 15:32 – Jesus feeds thousands who have followed him for three days, hungering for The Word of God. The religious structure collected taxes and burned offerings. The broken-hearted and the displaced were not healed. The marginalized lived at the whim of those with power. There were no social safety nets and little compassion in this ancient society.

Matthew 12:40 – Jesus reminds us that just as Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of a huge fish so too will the Son of Man pass three days and nights in the heart of the earth.  There is more safety in Jesus’ promise of salvation than any civil or economic structure.

Matthew 26:57-68 – Jesus stands in silence before the Sanhedrin when he is accused of saying that he will rebuild in three days the destroyed temple that took decades to build. When Jesus finally replies that the Son of Man will be seen sitting at God’s right hand, the high priest rends his clothes.  Disbelief and scorn are typical reactions to the savior’s promise.

Matthew 27:39-40 – Those who pass by the crucified Jesus taunt him saying: You who are going to rebuild the temple in three days, save yourself!  Bullying and violence are too often the response to God’s promise of wholeness and newness in Christ.

Matthew 27:62-66 – A guard is established at Jesus’ tomb in order that his compatriots not steal the body and create a false story. “Take a guard,” Pilate says. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how”.  There is no power on earth that can withstand the force of God’s love.

In three days, Jesus rose from the depths of death just as he had promised.  And the miracle of this event is not only that Jesus has risen, but that he carries each of us with him into this new resurrection and new life. Let us give thanks today and all days. Alleluia!

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