A Fitting Dwelling Place for the Lord
Third Sunday of Lent
March 8, 2015
Around the time that the life of Jesus Christ was being recorded in the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke, the Romans marched into the holy city of Jerusalem in full force. Once there, they poured oil over the walls of the great Temple. The massive and ornate granite stones were filled with moisture from the winter. The Romans lit the oil that covered the surface of the stones, and as it burned, the water inside the stones rose to the boiling point. The perfectly placed stones literally imploded, bringing this wonder of the ancient world to ruin. The people had demanded a sign and there it was before their very eyes. The Temple was destroyed.
The irony is that was not the sign that Jesus presented to their doubting minds. Anticipating that His earthly Body would be destroyed as a result of fear, ignorance, doubt, pride, and greed…He promised Resurrection. And He made good on the promise.
God’s House, that Jesus so loved, was destroyed. But His Body was raised. While the Temple was never rebuilt with stones, construction was already well underway on an even more fitting dwelling place for the Holy Spirit of God. The materials were not stone and mortar…but something completely indestructible…the Word of the Lord. The Holy Spirit dwells within the Gospel…the Living Word of God…and no earthly force has the power to destroy it. On the other hand, just as the Jerusalem temple was disrespected, all too often, so is the Gospel.
Think of it this way. Before we hear the Gospel proclaimed during Mass, we sign our foreheads, our lips, and our hearts…and we pray…May the Lord be on my mind, on my lips, and in my heart! When we open our minds fully and our hearts completely…when we pray and speak and share the Good News, it’s as if we become living temples of the Holy Spirit. We become “houses of prayer.” And even as zeal for God’s House consumed Jesus, The Lord is eager to dwell in our hearts.
Lent is our special time to purify ourselves in order to be a fitting dwelling place for the Lord. This is a time for us to take stock of all of those things that clutter our minds and our hearts, so that it is not fitting for the Lord to “come under our roof.” During this penitential season, we should think back with regret to those things we should not have said…and look ahead for opportunities to say the things that we need to say. This is the time for us to recognize who and what we are…so that our lives are not a “market place” for what is profane. This is the time for us to take full advantage of the Sacraments, and in that way, undergo a purification that is fitting for a Resurrection people.
Each day of Lent is like a perfect stone for us to pick up and put into its proper place so that by Easter Sunday, we have rebuilt the Temple, where the Lord will certainly dwell.