Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, November 9, 2016 — “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
Lectionary: 671

Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple by El Greco

Reading 1 EZ 47:1-2, 8-9, 12

The angel brought me
back to the entrance of the temple,
and I saw water flowing out
from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east,
for the façade of the temple was toward the east;
the water flowed down from the southern side of the temple,
south of the altar.
He led me outside by the north gate,
and around to the outer gate facing the east,
where I saw water trickling from the southern side.
He said to me,
“This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah,
and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh.
Wherever the river flows,
every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live,
and there shall be abundant fish,
for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh.
Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow;
their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail.
Every month they shall bear fresh fruit,
for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary.
Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9

R. (5) The waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High!
God is our refuge and our strength,
an ever-present help in distress.
Therefore, we fear not, though the earth be shaken
and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea.
R. The waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High!
There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High.
God is in its midst; it shall not be disturbed;
God will help it at the break of dawn.
R. The waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High!
The LORD of hosts is with us;
our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
Come! behold the deeds of the LORD,
the astounding things he has wrought on earth.
R. The waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High!

Reading 2 1 COR 3:9C-11, 16-17

Brothers and sisters:
You are God’s building.
According to the grace of God given to me,
like a wise master builder I laid a foundation,
and another is building upon it.
But each one must be careful how he builds upon it,
for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there,
namely, Jesus Christ.

Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God’s temple,
God will destroy that person;
for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

Alleluia 2 CHR 7:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I have chosen and consecrated this house, says the Lord,
that my name may be there forever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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Jesus Painting - Jesus Removing The Money Lenders From The Temple by James Edwin McConnell

Jesus Removing The Money Lenders From The Temple is a painting by James Edwin McConnell.

Gospel JN 2:13-22

Since the Passover of the Jews was near,
Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,
as well as the money-changers seated there.
He made a whip out of cords
and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen,
and spilled the coins of the money-changers
and overturned their tables,
and to those who sold doves he said,
“Take these out of here,
and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
His disciples recalled the words of Scripture,
Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him,
“What sign can you show us for doing this?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
The Jews said,
“This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,
and you will raise it up in three days?”
But he was speaking about the temple of his Body.
Therefore, when he was raised from the dead,
his disciples remembered that he had said this,
and they came to believe the Scripture
and the word Jesus had spoken.

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Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the cathedral of Rome. This is not St. Peter’s, but it is the Pope’s cathedral. Also called the Church of Holy Savior or the Church of St. John Baptist, it was the baptism church of ancient Rome. It was built in the time of Constantine and was consecrated by Pope Sylvester in 324. This feast became a universal celebration in honor of the basilica called “the mother and mistress of all churches of Rome and the world” (omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput) as a sign of love for and union with the See of Peter.

Related:

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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09 NOVEMBER 2016, Wednesday, The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
MAKING THE CHURCH THE DWELLING PLACE OF GOD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  EZ 47:1-2, 8-9, 12; 1 COR 3:9-11, 16-17; JN 2:13-22  ]

Many of you would find it strange that we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica.  Why should we render honour to a Church building and especially to the Lateran Basilica?

Firstly, when we celebrate the dedication of a church, especially the founding of the Mother church, we want to give thanks to God for the blessings we have received through her.  However, the church is not only a source of blessings for us but also for the world as well.  This is because the church is now the sign of God’s presence.  The church recalls to us the presence of God in our midst.  It is God’s dwelling place in the world.  It is true that the church provides us the ambience for a dignified worship. But the church is more than a building.  It enables us to be in communion with God both as individuals and as a communion of saints.  Through worship, man comes close to God.  The church is a sign of man in communion with God.

This is so only because Christians, as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, become the body of Christ.  However, this is possible only if we, as members of Christ’s body, cooperate in building the Temple of God.  So today we are called upon to examine whether we have truly played our part in making the Church, the Body of Christ, the Temple of God.

What must we do to make the church truly the Temple of God and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?  This was the challenge that was posed to Jesus when the Jews challenged Jesus by asking: “’What sign can you show us to justify what you have done?’ Jesus answered, ‘destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up’.”  The Temple in Jesus’ understanding is Himself.  So if the church is truly to be the Temple of God, the sign of God’s presence, we must become the living stones of the church, of Jesus’ presence.  We must not reduce the church simply to a building or a place to perform rituals.  Rather, the church must be a people of Faith.

Hence, we must make the church truly a place where God is experienced and where God is truly alive.  This means that first and foremost, we must make the church truly a house of prayer. We must be dynamic in worship, participative and truly prayerful.  When we do our part by being punctual for mass, by participating in the singing and prayers, we make the community more alive and help each other in prayer.  Indeed, the most important sign of whether the people are alive in their faith or not is to see the way they pray.  When we see people hardly praying or only praying with their lips and not their hearts, we know that God is dead for such people.  If people cannot open their mouths to praise God, it indicates that they have not been touched by the Lord.

In order that the sacredness of the church is preserved, we need to have some respect when we are in church by being properly attired.  We must realize that we are not going to a market or to a picnic or Hollywood to receive an academy award. Since we are coming to the House of God, a royal house, then certainly we must dress appropriately.  Unlike other religions which prohibit anyone who is not properly dressed to enter the mosque or temple, we Catholics have become rather lax and casual in dressing so much so we have lost the sense of the sacred even in the house of God.  Perhaps we might feel it is insignificant, but the truth is that our external expression reflects our interior disposition.

It is also important that we observe silence when silence is required and not turn the church into a market place where people engage in all kinds of conversation before, during and after mass.  Unfortunately, quite often, the church is no longer regarded as a sacred place, a sanctuary where one can be in communion with God because people do not keep that quiet atmosphere for prayer.  As a result those who want to spend quiet time with the Lord are deprived.

Secondly, we must make the church a house of fellowship.  If we are truly Church, people must see the members as a community of love and unity.  We must be careful not to be individualistic in our faith.  True love of God must be manifested in our love for others.  If there is a lack of unity and love among ourselves, we become counter-witnesses to Christ since we claim we are members of One Body.

Thirdly, to make the church a sign in the world today, we must make the church a house of service and love, especially to the poor. We must understand Jesus’ purification of the Temple in perspective. Jesus drove the merchants out because they were cheating the poor; not because they were selling things and animals needed for the sacrifice.  Jesus reprimanded them for turning His Father’s house into a market because He was dismayed at the dishonesty of the merchants who were profiteering by charging exorbitant prices for their goods.  So the church must be a sign of divine mercy, not just for sinners but also in compassionate work for the poor.  We are called to champion the marginalized, the oppressed, the voiceless and the needy.

At the same time, we must realize that according to our own ways, we must offer our services and talents to the church, the Christian community.  For without the generous services of the Christian community, we would only have a building but no activities. Without our contribution the church cannot be alive and relevant.   The parish priest alone cannot make the church alive.   After all, this is our church and we are the church.   Instead of complaining that the church is dull, boring and dead, why don’t we do something about it?  As has been said, “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness!”

Fourthly, for the church to be a sign of God’s presence, we must live in unity with the rest of the churches.  The most powerful sign of the Catholic Church is the sign of unity under the Holy Father.  That is why today’s feast is so important for the universal Church for it expresses our union with our motherly church in Rome and therefore with all the churches in the world. The Church seeks not only unity among ourselves but we seek unity with those Christian Communities and churches that have broken away from us.

Consequently, if we are to be truly the sign of God’s presence, the living stones of the Temple of God, the Body of Christ, then we need to be connected with the Church and be in communion with the Church.  By virtue of our baptism, we are incorporated and grafted onto Christ; thereby sharing His Spirit and in so doing, become His body.  Through baptism, Christians are united with each other in Christ.  This is what was hinted by the prophet Ezekiel when he underscored that life-giving water flows from the ideal temple in Jerusalem.  It is significant that what was emphasized is not the building itself but what flows out of it.  Unless we are connected with the water, the source of life, unless we are people truly connected with the Church, we cannot be life-giving to others.  Union with the Church, the body of Christ is essential if we want to be the temples of the Holy Spirit.

Most of all, we must remember that there is no Church without Jesus.  He is the foundation stone.  More than anything else, we need to pray for intimacy with the Lord.  Jesus is the only true foundation in the final analysis.  As Paul shared with us, “For the foundation, nobody can lay any other than the one which has already been laid, that is Jesus Christ.”  Indeed, this is what Jesus meant when He said that He would rebuild the temple in three days.  According to John’s interpretation, it means that Jesus, through the power of His resurrection, will become the new temple of God.  Through our faith in Him, we will share in His Spirit so that we enter into a special relationship with God by becoming His children in baptism.

Today when we re-dedicate St John Lateran Basilica, we remember St John’s special devotion and intimacy with Jesus and St John the Baptist, known for his preaching ministry to conversion and baptism.  We too must pray thus, “Zeal for your house will devour me.”   We must rededicate ourselves to our faith and our mission.  We must pray that we have the same zeal for the Father’s house and our Christian community.

Failure to do so would mean not only that others are prevented from coming to know God but that we will destroy ourselves as well.  This is the warning of Jesus, “If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred; and you are that temple.”  By not growing in faith and in apostolic zeal, we lose the little glimmer of faith we have.  Hence, it is important that we renew our faith in Christ and in our common baptism, which makes us the Church. As we often say, “we are the Church.”  Let us make this claim a reality so that the Church is not seen as dead stones, a lifeless building, but a living people filled with the Holy Spirit and His love.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

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http://www.catholic.org.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites

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Reflection

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• Context. Our passage contains a clear and unmistakable teaching of Jesus in the Temple. Previously John the Baptist had given witness of Jesus saying that He was the Messiah (1, 29); the first disciples, on the indication of the Baptist, have recognized him as the Lamb of God, a quality of the Messiah: to inaugurate a new Passover and covenant, to bring about the definitive liberation of man (Jn 1, 35-51); in Cana, Jesus works a first sign to show his glory (Jn 2, 1-12): the glory becomes visible, it can be contemplated, therefore, it manifests itself. It is the glory of the Father present in the person of Jesus and which manifests itself at the beginning of his activity, in this way, anticipating his “hour” (17, 1).

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In what way is his glory manifested? God restores gratuitously with man a new relationship; he unites him intimately to him giving him the capacity to love like He loves, through the Spirit who purifies the heart of man and makes him son of God. But, it is necessary to recognize the immutable love of God, manifested in Jesus, responding with faith, with a personal adherence.

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• Jesus and the Temple. Now Jesus is in Jerusalem, in the Temple fulfilling the prophecy of Malachi (Ml 3, 1-3), he proclaims himself Messiah. Such a presence of Jesus is above all his teaching that produces tension. Now, the reader understands how the great disputes with the Jews always take place in the Temple; in this place Jesus pronounces his substantial denunciations; his task is to lead the people outside the Temple (2, 15; 10, 4). In last instance Jesus was condemned because he represented a danger for the Temple and for the people.

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Jesus goes to Jerusalem on the occasion of the Passover of the Jews: it is clamorous to manifest himself in public and to reveal to all that he is the Messiah. During that feast Jerusalem is full of pilgrims who have come from all parts and therefore his actions would have had a great effect in the whole of Palestine.

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When he arrived in Jerusalem he immediately is seen in the Temple where there are a number of people selling cattle, sheep and doves and the money changers sitting there. The encounter in the Temple is not with persons who seek God but dealers of the sacred: the amount paid to be able to open a stand to be able to sell was given to the high priest. Jesus chooses this occasion (the Passover) this place (the Temple) to give a sign.

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He takes a whip, an instrument which was a symbol of the Messiah who punishes vices and evil practices, and he drives out everybody from the Temple, together with the cattle and sheep. Worthy to be noted is his act against those selling the doves (v. 15). The dove was an animal used for the propitiatory holocausts (Lv 9, 14-17), in the sacrifices of expiation and of purification (Lv 12, 8; 15, 14.29), especially if those who offered it were poor (Lv 5, 7; 14, 22. 30ff). The sellers, those who sold the doves, that is to say, sold reconciliation with God for money.

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• The house of my Father. The expression wants to indicate that Jesus in his actions behaves as a Son. He represents the Father in the world. They have transformed the worship of God into a market, a place for trading. The Temple is no longer the place of encounter with God, but a market where the presence of money is in force. Worship has become the pretext to gain more. Jesus attacks the central institution of Israel, the temple: the symbol of the people and of the election. He denounces that the Temple has been deprived of its historical function: to be the sign of the dwelling of God in the midst of his people. The first reaction to Jesus’ action comes from the disciples who associate this to Psalm 69, 10: “I am eaten up with zeal for your house”.

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The second reaction comes from the high priests who respond in the name of those selling in the Temple: “What sign can you show us that you should act like this?” (v.18). They have asked him for a sign; he gives them that of his death: “Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up” (v. 19). Jesus is the Temple that assures of the presence of God in the world, the presence of his love; the death on the cross will make of him the only and definite Temple of God. The Temple constructed by the hands of man has fallen into decay; Jesus will be the one to substitute it, because He is now the presence of God in the world; the Father is present in Him.

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Personal questions
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• Have you understood that the sign of love of God for you is no longer the temple but a Person: Jesus crucified?
• Do you not know that this sign is turned to you personally to bring about your definitive liberation?
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Concluding Prayer
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God is both refuge and strength for us,
a help always ready in trouble;
so we shall not be afraid though the earth be in turmoil,
though mountains tumble into the depths of the sea. (Ps 46,1-2)
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One Response to “Prayer and Meditation for Wednesday, November 9, 2016 — “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.””

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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