Here and Now in the Temple

March 4, 2018

The Gospel portrays the passion and zeal Jesus has for the temple.  He clears it out of those who have misused it.  It is not to be made into a marketplace.  That distinction is important to us as we enter the temple.  We are to know and experience the difference between the two, a temple and a marketplace.


The temple becomes an invitation on two levels, the practical and the symbolic.  We are all drawn to church.  Its open doors allow us to pray; its stained glass windows tell stories and amplify the beauty.  What brings an individual to church can be vast in motivation, yet simple in its execution.  It is our need for God.  The confusion is when we feel we are not heard.  Symbolically the disciples recall that story and refer to Jesus speaking of the temple of His body.  On this level too, we must know and treat our bodies as a temple, as a place of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We must reverence the breath of God in our soul.  Yet how often do we make ourselves a marketplace.  We abuse the food and drink we consume; we sell out to fad diets and put pressure on what we look like instead of how God sees us.


In the temple of transparency we are called to worship the One who dwells in the temple, not the temple itself.  So often we can hide behind laws and traditions and not make the connection with God.  We use the security of what we know to build walls to avoid growth and faith.  Pastoral sensitivity gets lost.  In the now we must face the fact that God uses the vehicle of the Church even when it is broken.  It is not easy to trust an institution riddled with child abuse cases, abuse of power issues, and divisions as to pastoral responses.  Yet God is above and beyond it all.  His choice is to dwell in the Sacraments.  In the now of our bodily temples we are to sit with the sin in our lives. We are to admit the times we get caught up in the issues of how we look, what we wear, what we drive, and how that money changing keeps us from how God sees us.


It says clearly that after Jesus left the temple He did not trust Himself to certain people, He knew them.  After showing His passion for the outward temple of worship and His bodily temple, He is in full knowledge of what He is called to be.  He is protective of God’s plan and that it should not be sidetracked, high jacked or misinterpreted by others.  This certainly leads us to what we are called to do.  So often our uncertainty and our unwillingness to be strong in our faith weakens our ability to keep holy the Sabbath.  So often we load up Sunday with many things to accomplish and leave very little time for God.  From sporting activities, games and practices, distractions come in all shapes and sizes.  Procrastination fills the last hours before going back to school and some use the time to catch up on work rather than spend the time necessary to have a passion and zeal for the Sabbath as God intended.

When church becomes a chore or something to cross off the list, we are far from the temple’s focus and priority.  We must recapture it.  Within the temple of ourselves this happens with silence.  This happens with recognizing the presence of God, the blessings of God and the movement of God in our lives.  When we connect with this, grace overcomes our uncertainty and we can realize we have never been abandoned and the interior of the temple has always been strong because it comes from God.

Here is the now; the temple is the place,

Jesus is waiting.

Reverend John J. Ouper