Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost - 29 July AD 2012

Temple of the Holy Ghost, or Den of Thieves?


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

    It is easier to understand today’s Epistle if you know that Saint Paul was referring to events that took place during the Exodus of the Jewish people from captivity in Egypt.[2]  What Paul refers to as “fornication” is probably the Jew’s creation and worship of the golden calf while Moses was away on the mountain to receive the Commandments—God frequently referred to their infidelity to Him as “adultery.”  The “tempting” and “murmuring” against God had to do with their continual complaining as they wandered through the desert.  Some of them even wanted to return to captivity in Egypt, as the food was better than what they were getting in the desert.  The serpents were poisonous snakes God sent against them—although providing a cure for them in the form of a brass replica of a snake, held up on a pole for the people to look upon and be cured—this snake on a pole is said to have some resemblance to our Lord crucified.  Saint Paul is telling us to avoid false religions, and to be content with what God gives us in life without complaint.

The Gospel speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem.[3]  Jerusalem was very special to the Jews—the Temple there being the place where God actually dwelled with His people, somewhat as He does today in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

    Our Lord’s words were prophetic, for the destruction would take place as He described, a little less than forty years later.  The Emperor Vespasian sent the Roman army, commanded by his son Titus, to put down the rebellion of the Jews.  They reduced the resistance of the Jews by throwing up a rampart around the city and starving them out.  After the siege ended they crucified or disemboweled many of the people, and destroyed so much that the image of “not a stone standing upon a stone” was nearly true in a literal sense.

    The Temple in Jerusalem was the place where our Lord taught daily  “And the chief priests and the scribes and the rulers of the people sought to destroy him ... [for] all the people were very attentive to hear him.”[4]  In spite of our Lord’s teaching, and in spite of the miracles He worked, the rulers of the Jews were jealous of Him.  They were afraid that they might lose their positions of importance to Him—and they were afraid the Romans would take notice—“If we let him alone so, all will believe in him; and the Romans will come, and take away our place and nation.”[5]  Our Lord was the last in a long line of prophets sent by God to urge the repentance of the Jewish people:  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee....”[6]  Things would be no different with Jesus, and because of this rejection of God and His prophets, the Holy City and its Temple would be destroyed, and its unrepentant people scattered.  It is said that those who became Christians, knowing our Lord’s prophecy of the City’s destruction, were able to flee before the Romans set up their siege.

    In one of his many sermons, Pope Saint Gregory the Great reminds us that even though we have accepted the Catholic Faith, there is a danger that the Temple of our soul may become a figurative “den of thieves,” and that many of us refuse to repent and will face the same destruction as Jerusalem.[7]

    God expects the Christian soul to be a font of prayers, and ever to be thirsting for the knowledge of Him.  God expects our will to conform to His will.  He expects us to love our neighbors as He loves us and them.  To use our soul in any way unintended by God is a sort of theft, or misappropriation.  Remember, as the Catechism says:  God made us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.[8]  If we refuse to know, love, and serve God we are misappropriating the intellect and will that God gave us, and our soul becomes a “den of thieves.”

    As well, Pope Gregory reminds us that the time for repentance is now.  We must not make the mistake of the Jews who thought that God would always be sending new prophets to them, and that they could repent whenever they got around to it.  Theirs is the mistake of the Catholic who assumes that he will always have time for repentance before he dies.  He is under the illusion that he is guaranteed to be conscious and awake before his last minutes on earth—under the illusion that he can be sure of having a priest at his bedside to hear his Confession and to give him the Sacraments.  That is very unlikely in our secular world, but was never guaranteed in any age or place.

    And, repenting on one’s death bead would not be much of a repentance.  If the only thing that motivates us to repentance is fear of death and punishment, it is much like saying that were we not in fear for our lives, we would continue to reject God—hardly could such a soul be said to “know, love, and serve God.”  The “den of thieves” label is appropriate, for such a soul looks to steal his salvation, without having to do any of the things God expects of us.

    The “time of our visitation” is now!  Jesus Christ has made Himself known to us and gives us the opportunity to grow in holiness.  He has admitted us to His kingdom on earth through Baptism, and gives the opportunity to confess our sins, to stand by His cross in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and to receive Him in Holy Communion.  He gives us the opportunity to make our souls temples of the Holy Ghost through prayer.

    God gives us the ability to resist temptation, as Saint Paul tells us.  No one is forced to live a life without God.  We are all capable of repentance and living life as a temple of the Holy Ghost.  The time is now, and not at some vague point in the future.

    Your soul must be a temple of the Holy Ghost, and not a den of thieves!




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