Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Ave Maria!
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost—17 July AD 2016

(Before reading Epistle): If the epistle sounds a just little cryptic this morning, it should be enough to understand that Saint Paul is recalling an event from the Old Testament, calling to mind how some of the people being led through the desert. out of Egypt, were being unfaithful to God even though He had been providing for all of their needs. The important theme here is the importance of fidelity to the one true God; fidelity will be rewarded, infidelity will be punished.

Roman Destruction of Jerusalem

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

“Because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”[1]

    To the religious Jew, Jerusalem enjoyed a unique place of honor.  In the Ark of the Covenant God had lead them out of captivity in Egypt, appearing as a pillar of fire by night and cloud day.[2]  During the high priesthood of Samuel the Ark resided in a temporary place at Silo.[3]  There was no permanent home for the Ark until the building of the first temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, under King Solomon.[4]  The temple was rebuilt after the Babylonian captivity and was expanded by King Herod.

    The Temple consisted of a series of courts that converged on the Holy of Holies, the dwelling of God Himself.  Only the priests could enter the court outside of the Holy of Holies, and only the high priest was allowed beyond the veil to the Divine Presence, and that was but once a year on the Day of Atonement.  Jewish Men could enter a court outside that of the priests, at the eastern end.  The court of the Jewish women was still further to the east and contained the Temple treasury, where people paid their tithe and made voluntary donations.  Another court surrounded the Temple on three sides, and non-Jews were permitted in this court of the Gentiles.  At least three times a year (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles) the able bodied men of Israel converged on Jerusalem and it's temple to offer sacrifice in the holy Presence of God.[5]  Jerusalem was the center of Jewish life.

    Jesus wept over Jerusalem because He knew that the Jews’ would reject Him, and crucify Him.  That veil which curtained off the Holy of Holies would be ripped from the top down.[6]  The Sacred Presence would dwell there no more.  He further knew that the Temple itself would be utterly destroyed by the Romans less than forty years later.

    But, at the moment recounted in today’s Gospel our Lord was concerned with a different sort of desecration of the Temple: “My house is the house of, prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.”  There were two types of business going on—money changing and the sale of sacrificial animals.  People coming from afar needed to change their money into the currency of the Temple in order to make their tithes and donations—no coin bearing the likeness of an animal or human being was acceptable.  They also needed to purchase the animals which the Mosaic Law prescribed for the Temple sacrifices, oxen, sheep and doves).  These are innocent enough activities, but greed seems to have entered into the process.  The priests allowed these activities in the court of the Gentiles, and took a percentage of the profits.  Money seems to have been loaned at interest—a violation of the Mosaic Law’s prohibition of usury.  Quite possibly the prices charged were unjustly high.  And, perhaps, the commerce had trickled into the court of the Women.

    Our Lord recognized this as a rejection of the Temple’s purpose—it was supposed to be the house of God, and thus a house of prayer—but it had become a place of business, and dishonest business at that.  He referred to them as “thieves.”  The synoptic Gospels relate the destruction of Jerusalem in proximity to the cleansing of the Temple—no doubt our Lord understood the commerce in the Temple as an early rejection of Himself.  His priests should have been more concerned about the worship of Him and His Father.  Saint Mark relates that afterwards “the chief priests and the scribes … sought how they might destroy Him. For they feared him, because the whole multitude was in admiration at his doctrine.”[7]  He was a threat to their authority as well as to their profits.  The punishment for rejecting the Son of God would be the destruction of their city and their society.  They did not recognize the “time of their visitation” by God Himself.

    We might learn from their error.  The buying and selling could have been perfectly innocent, but they detracted from the true purpose of the Temple.  We should want not to detract from the True Presence of God in our church.  The purpose of the church is prayer.  We must not distract one another by our appearance—our dress should be neither too casual nor flamboyant—it must always be modest!  Our conversations should be limited to what is truly necessary—otherwise they should be brought outside of the church—and even then they must not disturb those who remain to pray before or after Mass.  Have respect for the church's property and furnishings.  Raise and lower the kneelers carefully.  Don't fold the sheet music; don't fold the Mass booklets inside out.

    Do everything that you do with true reverence for God’s almighty Presence.  Let us not be like those who “do not recognize the time of their visitation.”



Dei via est íntegra
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