We are Temples of the Lord – Reflection on the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
Readings for Today, The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
Ezekiel 47:1-2,8-9,12; Psalm 46:2-3,5-6,8-9; 1 Corinthians 3:9-11,16-17; John 2:13-22
A very strong theme ran throughout the readings today about the temple of God. Originally the temple was a massive and glorious physical building in the heart of Jerusalem, first built by Solomon for the arc of the covenant. The building was destroyed about 70 years after Christ’s resurrection, but a new ‘temple’ had been established long before the building was destroyed. Christ became the new temple, and each of us, in turn, are temples ourselves, housing the Spirit of the Lord.
The gospel talks about Christ clearing the temple of the money changers and the animals being sold for sacrifice. At the time it was because Jesus was infuriated that His Father’s house had become a “marketplace.” But in pondering that reading, it also occurred to me that it was too in preparation for the fact that the House of God was changing locations, from a physical building to the Body of Christ, first in Christ’s physical body, and then in those who followed him, the Church.
And in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks of each of us individually as also being temples (just as Christ was Himself a temple):
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.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17
In a podcast I listened to today, Pray As You Go, the speaker asked me, the listener, how I felt about being such a temple, housing the Holy Spirit. I felt gratitude that I would never be alone, sorrow that others that I love are not aware that they house the Spirit, and most of all, responsibility.
I thought of Ezekiel’s vision and that applied to me, as a temple of God. Living water must pour out of me. I must stay connected to the Spirit, nurture my relationship with the Triune God, and try to remain sinless, or at least, confess my sins quickly and with heartfelt sorrow. Perhaps I need to go to confession more often to help with this.
As I write this, I think about what I used to reflect upon as a child after receiving communion (this was during the era of the Latin Mass). Often I would picture the foyer of our house, swept clean with gleaming hardwood floors. The Eucharist makes me clean and helps me in nurturing my relationship with God.
Keeping up with daily prayer and reflection on the scriptures, plus spiritual reading, helps in that regard too. And as I fill myself with the good things that God provides, the river that Ezekiel foresaw overflows out of me, for how can I contain it?
And as Church, if we all pay attention to our own temples, the river will flow like flood waters out of the Body of Christ. Imagine how that would change our world!