By Joseph Larson
The Temple in Jerusalem
In the ancient world before Christ came, there was only one place where God’s presence resided and where sacrifices were offered to Him – the Temple on Mount Zion. Most Jewish towns had synagogues where the holy books were read and taught, but it was only the one Temple in Jerusalem where God resided fully and the rituals of Jewish life were performed. We need to note carefully what was in the heart of the Temple, because it helps us see what we are today in God’s eyes.
At the heart of the temple was the Holy of Holies, a room where even the High Priest was only allowed to enter on one day in the year, Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. The center of the Holy of Holies and thus the entire Temple was the Ark of the Covenant, a gold coffin-shaped box that contained the Ten Commandments, the Staff of Aaron and Manna from the desert. The lid of the ark was called the Mercy Seat and had two gold Cherubim facing each other. Between the Cherubim was where God spoke to Moses and would appear in the temple.
The Temple in You
The old Temple was a precursor to our Churches, but also a prefigurement of our souls after baptism. Our souls truly are temples of God. Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are truly present within us, if we are in the state of Sanctifying Grace. Through priestly power we receive grace in the Sacraments, corresponding to the Rod of Aaron in the ark; the law, as Christ says, is written in our hearts, corresponding to the Ten Commandments; and receive the bread from heaven, the Body of Christ, corresponding to the Manna in the Tabernacle. The Divine Life of God now dwells in us. We are truly Tabernacles.
This Divine Life is present within our souls to the degree which we make room for this life. Venial sin dulls it, mortal sin snuffs it out, but prayer, grace, and virtue are like bellows to kindle the Divine Life in our souls back into fire.
Drive Them Out!
Advent is here. A time when we are to long for the coming of our Savior like the Jews did for centuries, and to prepare our temples to receive Him. Let us take as our model Christ. When He cleansed the Temple of His Father, he didn’t whitewash the walls or sweep the floors, he knotted a rope and forcefully drove from the temple the money changers and vendors. If this happened today, I can hear a certain population saying that those vendors were necessary, money needed to be changed, doves need to be purchased – those people were serving a purpose. But Christ in his just anger shouted at them, “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves”.
Let us be unequivocal like Christ. We say that social media keeps us in touch with friends, that news makes us informed citizen, that watching sports is a necessary relaxation. The truth is that those things are sitting in the middle of our temple and taking up room that should be occupied by God, family, and prayer. For me this Advent I will try to free myself from the all too common criticisms of my wife. I argue in my head that they aren’t criticism – I pretend they are critique aimed at helping her be better – but I know the reality is that they are really a manifestations of my own sinful pride.
This Advent I invite you to ask your Guardian Angel, who is very aware of your deepest faults, to guide you in removing 30 minutes of wasted time in your day and devote it to prayer. Take 30 minutes away from the money changers in your temple and give it to God every morning.
Here is my Temple Cleansing Morning Plan:
- Get up 30 minutes early.
- Pray the Office of Readings.
- Read a day from the book “30 days with Teresa of Avila”
- Spend the rest of the time in silence.
What’s your plan?