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Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021

Luke 19:41-44

Ercole de" Roberti: Destruction of Jerusalem

Ercole de’ Roberti: Destruction of Jerusalem

Recognizing the Messiah

We lament the world’s injustice. We search for wisdom in the prophets. We struggle to live the Word of the Gospel. We await a Messiah.

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes”.

Jerusalem is the celebrated site of God’s presence among the Jewish people – yet Jesus laments her blindness.

“For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides”. 

The holy Temple contains the Ark of the Covenant – yet Jesus predicts the day when all will be lost.

“They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation”.

The people of God cried out for a king. God answered their prayer. Yet they did not recognize that God already lived among them.

Let us decide to address the world’s injustice. Let us listen to the wisdom in the prophets. Let us determine to live out the truths of the Gospel. And let us choose to recognize the Messiah who dwells within.

On this Easter Sunday that holds so much promise after a year of pandemic fear and social unease, we acknowledge that although the Temple of Jerusalem fell, it rose again in the body of Christ. We recognize the wisdom of the prophecy of Amos. We celebrate the limitless mercy of the Messiah.


For a homily on this reading, click on the image above or go to: http://sothl.com/2011/08/28/sermon-luke-1941-44/

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Christmas Eve – December 24, 2020

4112920[1]Luke 2:39-40

Filled With Wisdom and Light

The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Last week we spent time with Luke’s telling of the Nativity Story and in our reflections we explored four Lucan themes: the rearing of Jesus in the Mosaic Law and traditions, the importance of Jerusalem and the Temple in Jesus’ family life, the presence of God’s Spirit in the Jesus story, and Jesus as the presence of truth and light that will effect decision and judgment. (Mays 932)

God says: When you experience my son in this story you too will be filled with wisdom and light. When you live in my Spirit you too will find your decisions come to you more easily for they will be made in and through me. I do not want to control you and that is why I have given you full free will. I want to love you, and I want you to love me. Jesus lives by the old law in order to bring about the new. This is not easy and it involves misery and disappointment; yet this sadness is transformed just as a butterfly arises from the cocoon spun by a caterpillar; new life springs from the decaying seeds of the old tree, and eternal life arrives through the fidelity and integrity of your relationships. Remain in me as I remain in you. Allow yourself to be filled with my wisdom and light. And allow my favor to bring you out of all suffering and pain. 

As the child grows strong and becomes filled with wisdom, so too do we grow in strength and understanding when we grow in God. As God’s favor rests upon the Child of Wisdom and Light, so too does God’s favor rest on each of us when we live and work in the Spirit. As we move through this holiest of weeks, let us open our hearts and minds to the gift of endless light and life.


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 932. Print.

Image from: http://wallpaper4god.com/en/background_christian-graphic-light-of-the-world/

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Luke 2:25-35

Rembrandt: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

Rembrandt van Rijn: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

Simeon

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.               

Righteous, devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel . . . Simeon focuses all of his spiritual, mental and physical energy on God. We imagine what sort of award awaits us when we determine to live as Simeon lives.

He came in the Spirit into the temple . . . Not only does Simeon live in the Spirit but he carries this Spirit with him wherever he goes. We imagine what effect we might have on the world if we are as faithful as Simeon.

“A second Lucan theme lies in the setting: Jerusalem and the Temple. For Luke the ministry of Jesus moves toward Jerusalem and the mission of the church moves out from Jerusalem. As for the Temple, Luke is alone among NT writers in is favorable view. His Gospel begins with Zechariah in the Temple and it will close with Jesus’ disciples in the Temple”. (Mays 932)

In this Advent time of year when all the world awaits  relief from a pandemic, and when we await Christ’s coming into the world, let us consider the many directions in which we feel ourselves pulled, the many losses we feel, and let us determine to await Christ in the temple of our hearts. Let us decide to take the story of our salvation to the world.

Tomorrow . . . a third Lucan theme.


To read and understand more about the importance of Simeon’s words, click on the image above or go to: http://www.jesuswalk.com/lessons/2_21-38.htm 

Or enter the word Simeon into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: https://www.canvasreplicas.com/Presentation-of-Jesus-in-the-Temple-Rembrandt-van-Rijn-Painting-Reproductions.htm

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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Solomon's Temple

Solomon’s Temple

Nehemiah 12:44-47

Their Due Portion

The whole of Israel used to give the cantors and gatekeepers their due portion for each day.

Nehemiah describes not only the restoration of the Temple when the exiles return from their place of deportation; Nehemiah also explains that the rites and rituals were also restored. All those who officiate at liturgies are to receive their due portion. In return, the Levites, the sons of Aaron and all those who make liturgy possible are to perform their duties. Nehemiah not only rebuilt walls and external structures, he rebuilt internal structures as well.

The Second Temple

Nehemiah’s Temple

God says: Each of you deserves your due portion. When you insist on having less or more you upset your natural balance. When you take more than your share you deny others of the goodness I have in store for them. When you take less, you deny the gift you are to the world. When you corrupt yourself or others you corrupt the vessel that contains hope for the world. When you deny yourself or others you also deny me. Carry out the task shown to you. Fulfill the hope planted in you. Come to me with your questions and concerns. Rather than take more or less than is meant for you, rather than fill your barns to bursting or depleting your energies until you are fully spent . . . receive your due portion and remain in the truth. This is where your true treasure lies.

Jesus reminds us that the measure we measure with is measured out to us.  (Luke 6:38) He also reminds us that where our heart lies, there will be our treasure.  (Luke 12:34)


For more information on the duties of gatekeepers, go to: http://prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/gatekeepers-watchmen-you-are-to-speak-out-the-lord-has-called-you-out-to-be-bold-today/

Image of Solomon’s Temple from: https://www.crystalinks.com/solomonstemple.html

For more information on the Second Temple, click on the image of Nehemiah’s Temple or go to: http://michaelruark.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/there-is-enough-room-for-both/

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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Acts 21:17-26Going Up to Jerusalem: Part I

Over the last seven days we have spent time with a number of people who were with Jesus in his final hours.

Today we begin a series of reflections about the place where this amazing story took place, Jerusalem, the sacred city of the Jewish people, the holy place of God.

jerusalem model

As I understand the expression, all Jews go up to Jerusalem because it is the holy mount – and the temple is placed on the bit of elevation which there is in the city.  Therefore, whether arriving from north, south, east or west, all Jews go up to Jerusalem.  We see Paul, Luke and other Jesus followers go up to Jerusalem to stay with Mnason the Cyriot, a disciple of the Christ, and to meet and speak with James – the leader of the church in this capital city and by most accounts, the brother of Jesus.  What follows in today’s reading is a bird’s eye view into one of the early church conflicts.

Paul has met with Jesus – the details of this encounter are outlined in various places in Acts and in his epistles and a good study Bible will lead you through those readings – and he tells everyone that he has been called by the Christ to spread the good news about the universal salvation which is available to all human beings.  The Christian Jews have a problem with this – and there is irony in this story for me – they realize, know, understand and act on the idea that they are the new church, fulfilling the new covenant through Christ, replacing the Old Guard of the temple Pharisees, being co-executors with God of the plan that we see initiated in Genesis 1.  These Jerusalem Jewish Christians see that a new Way must replace the old one – the New Law which has been written on hearts will replace and fulfill the Old Law which was written on stone tablets.  They also believe that the only way to attain the salvation promised by Jesus is first through the Mosaic or Old Law, and then through the New.  The irony here is that they wrangle with the Pharisees and Sadducees (the former believe in keeping themselves separate, apart and pure while the later do not believe in resurrection or life after death) who maintain a strangle-hold control over the temple, its rites and monies.  This Old Guard of aristocratic Jews believe that they are to continue to control the Jewish church structure and they will do this by jettisoning the important message which Jesus brings: the New Law of Love which does not rely on the temple structure, the rites and the cash.

The Jewish Old Guard sees their control of power, prestige and money falling away because if this new Law of Love is true, each human now has a direct link to God through the resurrected man Jesus.  The Old Guard is no longer needed in their role as intercessor.  Of course they prefer the Old Testament God of separation from the unclean, maintenance of outward signs of purity, and demanding adherence to temple rituals to this New Testament God of personal intimacy, maintenance of both outward and inner purity, and a freedom to worship in the interior temple which we are to prepare and maintain through a lifetime.  They prefer the structure over which they have control to the one over which they have none and in which each person finds his or her own relationship with God through a life of prayer and living in unity with all.  They fear the presence of Jesus resurrected, of Christ’s Mystical Body.

Tomorrow: Unity achieved through conflict . . . when we go up to Jerusalem


Image from: http://vhoagland.wordpress.com/2010/11/20/where-did-it-happen/

To learn more about Jerusalem and the many places that tell the stories of Jesus’ last days, visit Victor’s Place blog and read journey back through this pilgrim’s journal as we approach Palm Sunday and Holy Week.  

Today’s post is part of the December 16, 2007 Noontime reflection.

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Ezra 6Rebuilding

Friday, September 14, 2018

Written on January 8 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

The house is to be rebuilt . . .  

We are so often exhausted by life’s demands that we cannot experience joy when we hear good news . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

In today’s Noontime, King Darius reiterates the original command given by King Cyrus . . . the house is to be rebuilt.  Nehemiah, the administrator, and Ezra, the priest, set about restoring the city and temple in Jerusalem.  They travel through dangerous territory and carry with them a letter of safe-passage from their former enemy.  They arrive in Jerusalem to find a pile of rubble so dense that horses cannot find a pathway – they must pick their way on foot through toppled stone.  They return from exile most likely drained of energy . . . but there is hope and even joy because . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

I am struck by the concordance of the instructions in the decree we read today with the original description of the temple that Solomon built which we read in 1 Kings 7.  God does not forget his promise to the Jewish nation that . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

Nor does God forget all that he has promised us, his daughters and his sons.  Just like the destroyed temple, we too will be rebuilt and in fact are being rebuilt each day.  We are the temple in which the Spirit dwells, and as the cares of the world tear at its pillars and nibble at is foundation, Jesus becomes the master planner who constantly offers to help us reconstruct.  His constant attention and love remind us that . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

I am thinking of Psalms 126 and 127.  Those who go out weeping return singing . . . we labor in vain unless the Lord is the master builder of our house.

Whatever our flaws, whatever our sorrows, all will be converted to joy for we are promised that . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

Whatever our obstacles, whatever our fears, they become our stepping stones to serenity once we remember that . . . the house is to be rebuilt. 


A re-post from August 14, 2011.

Image from: http://www.amazon.com/Rebuilding-House-Laurie-Graham/dp/0140123385/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1313344601&sr=8-2 

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Psalm 27: Seek Trust – God’s Face

Morgan Weistling: Kissing the Face of God

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

This is one of my favorite Psalms. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear?  The Lord is my life’s refuge, of whom am I afraid?

We all seek God’s face.  This is what we miss so much in our pilgrimage on this planet.  Where do we find this face? The psalmist tells us: In the temple. 

This week’s Mass readings are from Exodus and we hear again the story of how Moses erected a desert tent as the temple that housed the covenant promise that the people held with God.  And God came down to speak with Moses and to the people in the form of a fiery column of smoke.  This column was both guide and protector.  The temple eventually traveled to various cities in the Kingdom of Israel, Jericho, Shiloh, and others, until it eventually rested in Jerusalem – where it ceased to travel and became permanent . . . and corrupt.

The Messiah arrived to replace that temple and to tell us that each one of us is a temple – to be kept holy and sacred for the Spirit’s in-dwelling, to be God’s presence in a struggling world.  And this is what we agree to as part of our own personal covenant with our creator.  That we will trust God and live in accordance with God’s statutes, that we will love God and practice the Greatest Commandment daily, that we will do our best to be People of Hope as we follow The Way that Jesus walked while here on earth.  As the psalmist says, I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy. And the sacrifices I offer are the little and big trials which I undergo daily.

We are all apostles sent forth with this message.  We are journeying together with a clear map to follow.  Again the psalmist, aware that enemies lurk along the roadside, says, Lord, show me your way; lead me on a level path because of my enemies.

The final exhortation sung by the psalmist is, Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!

And the people say . . . Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite written on August 2, 2007.

 

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Solomon's Temple

Solomon’s Temple

Nehemiah 12:44-47

Their Due Portion

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A reprise from October 28, 2013.

The whole of Israel used to give the cantors and gatekeepers their due portion for each day.

Nehemiah describes not only the restoration of the Temple when the exiles return from their place of deportation; Nehemiah also explains that the rites and rituals were also restored.  All those who officiate at liturgies are to receive their due portion.  In return, the Levites, the sons of Aaron and all those who make liturgy possible are to perform their duties.  Nehemiah not only rebuilt walls and external structures, he rebuilt internal structures as well.

The Second Temple

Nehemiah’s Temple

God says: Each of you deserves your due portion.  When you insist on having less or more you upset your natural balance.  When you take more than your share you deny others of the goodness I have in store for them.  When you take less, you deny the gift you are to the world.  When you corrupt yourself or others you corrupt the vessel that contains hope for the world.  When you deny yourself or others you also deny me. Carry out the task shown to you.  Fulfill the hope planted in you.  Come to me with your questions and concerns.  Rather than take more or less than is meant for you, rather than fill your barns to bursting or depleting your energies until you are fully spent . . . receive your due portion and remain in the truth.  This is where your true treasure lies.

Jesus reminds us that the measure we measure with is measured out to us.  (Luke 6:38) He also reminds us that where our heart lies, there will be our treasure.  (Luke 12:34)

For more information on the duties of gatekeepers, go to: http://prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/gatekeepers-watchmen-you-are-to-speak-out-the-lord-has-called-you-out-to-be-bold-today/

For more information on the Second Temple, click on the image of Nehemiah’s Temple or go to: http://michaelruark.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/there-is-enough-room-for-both/

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Ezekiel 43: God’s Glory Returns

archway-roman-ruins-tyre-lebanon_12240_600x450

National Geographic: Ruins of Roman Archway in Tyre, Lebanon

Thursday, May 25, 2017

As a counterbalance to the description of the downfall of Tyre on which we have reflected before, today we have a description of the temple in the New Jerusalem. What we see described here is God living with all of the Israelites forever. The man leading the prophet through this beautiful scenario says: Describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider the plan, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple – its arrangements, its exits and entrances – its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations. This portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy is full of detailed descriptions of the place and the people who make up this new city where God dwells forever with his people. It was meant to both instruct and to bring comfort to those who lived in exile with this prophet. The footnotes in the NAB point out that in the new Israel the temple is free, even physically, from civil jurisdiction – moving away from the habit of corrupt kings like Ahaz and Manasseh who treated it as a private chapel for pagan rites.

Jerusalem _ Old City Walls _ Noam Chen_IMOT

Noam Chen: Old City of  Jerusalem

When Jesus arrived on the scene hundreds of years later as the true Messiah, he upset much of this separatist and purist thinking. It was for his openness and universality that he was hunted down, condemned and put to death.  Because his new Law of Love fulfilled and superseded the old Law of Moses, he and his apostles were hounded out of towns and executed. Even in the early Christian church we see the struggle with this idea of openness and universality with the first Council which convened in Jerusalem to determine the importance of circumcision as a requirement for church membership. After discussion, and when the dust settles, we read in Acts that circumcision was not determined necessary.  God’s church is open to Gentile and Jew, slave or free, woman or man – to all those who will be faithful to the Covenant first established with Adam and Eve.

This is how we see the New Temple and the New Jerusalem as revealed by Ezekiel millennia ago. This place of worship where God dwells is where we live even today . . . if we might only choose to open our eyes and ears to it. This prophet was painting a picture of radiance for his exiled peope, and they must have taken heart at the memories these words stirred of how it is to gather together as Yahweh’s faithful to repent, to petition, to give thanks, to worship.

As Easter people who believe in the Resurrected Jesus, we too, can relax into these images and make them our own. We can carry them into the world with us each day as we encounter and then counter the darkness that wishes to prevail. We can arm ourselves with these pictures of the universal gathering of all of God’s People . . . the Faithful to the Covenant . . . the Hopeful in all things hopeless . . . the Truthful in all relationships . . . the Struggling with the cares of this world . . . the Freed who have escaped the chains of doubt and anxiety. For we are Easter people who live the Resurrection even now. For God’s Glory has returned in us . . . in our willingness to serve . . . our willingness to be vulnerable . . . our willingness to witness . . . our willingness to be Christ and Light and Truth to a world struggling to be free of the darkness.

This is God’s Plan. This is God’s Design. This is God’s Law.

Amen.  Alleluia!

A Favorite from April 13, 2008.

For a Noontime reflection on Tyre, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/09/18/tyre/ 

For more National Geographic images of Lebanon, click on the image above. 

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