NOVEMBER 19, 2005- AWHUM: 1 COR 3:9-17; JOHN 2:13-22
Do you realize that you are Godís temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you? These words are taken from todayís second reading. They serve as a very enlightening interpretation of this Gospel text in which Jesus casts out of the temple those who were doing business there. Our Lord had a great reverence for the temple because it was the place where his Father chose to dwell among his people. But even more profoundly, he understood that the temple signified in some way his own body as the dwelling place of the Father. Because this holy precinct was a symbol of his living body it was destined to remain serving as a sign even after it was physically destroyed. Since his body has been glorified in the resurrection and since the Holy Spirit has been sent to all who accept him in faith, this temple by extension, also signifies all of us who believe in him as our risen Savior. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians reminds his readers of this truth.
In his long discussion with the apostles at the Last Supper Jesus took up this teaching. He spoke of sending his Holy Spirit to accompany his followers, and also he promised that if we keep his word he himself will love us and so will the Father and both of them will come and abide in us. (John 14:23) These are powerful considerations. St Paul was deeply impressed with them. He understood their implications for our lives. Later in this same letter he stated that "the body is for the Lord and the Lord is for the body. God raised up the Lord and he will raise us up too by his power. Do you not realize that your bodies are members of Christís bodyÖ anyone who attaches himself to the Lord is one spirit with him. (1 Cor 6:13- 17)." These teaching are a source of strength for each of us for they make it clear that our Lord continues to care for us actively. He has concern for our welfare, he knows our weakness and temptations and is ever at hand to respond to our sincere prayer for his favor and strength. More than this, he is actively at work within us so as to prepare us for a life of loving union with himself and through him with our heavenly Father. His dwelling among us and within us is not a passive presence, but an energetic striving, respectful of our own freedom and so awaiting our collaboration in the inner work of preparing our heart for the vision of God.
This is the chief labor of the monk; indeed, it is the primary task of every Christian, to prepare the heart by Godís favor, by cultivating a strong faith and ardent desire to be united with God, for the capacity of abiding in his presence. For the all-holy God is a consuming fire as the prophet Isaiah puts it: "The light of Israel will become a fire and its Holy One a flame burning and devouring"(10:17) Only those with purified eyes of the heart can sustain his presence. As todayís Gospel indicates, however, it is not only the eyes that must be pure, for God chooses to dwell in our body which we must also prepare for him by chastity and the works of charity. In the 13th century a holy woman, Hadewijch, who was influenced by the teaching of William of St Thierry, wrote that at the end, when we are finally with God in glory, he will flow within us and we shall flow within him while remaining distinct yet mingling our whole self with the loving emanations of Godís love. It is this destiny that is presented for our consideration today. May the grace of this Eucharist provide us with the light and strength we need to prepare our self for this high and noble purpose.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
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