Third Sunday of Lent

Like the prophets before him, Jesus expressed the deepest respect for the Temple in Jerusalem[1]. It was in the Temple that Joseph and Mary presented him forty days after his birth[2]. Then, at the age of twelve he decided to remain in the Temple to remind his parents that he must be about his Father's business, and during his life he went there each year at least for Passover[3], so, we can see the profound relation between our Lord and the Temple[4].

Our churches and parishes are the authentic descendants of the temple in Jerusalem. Each tabernacle housing the Body and Blood of the Lord is a true Ark of the Covenant[5]. It is the presence of the living God himself who makes each church and chapel a true temple, where we must bow down in awe before the all-holy God.

Because of Christ our churches today are indeed a privileged place of encounter with God. Our reverence for the temples of today should far outstrip the reverence of the apostles for the Jewish temple.

So, let us do this evening some examination of conscience. Let is ask ourselves: do we offer the reverential worship demanded of us by Christ's divinity as we stand in his presence before the tabernacle?

Do we mistake his silent presence for permission to ignore him? Do we genuflect upon entering and prior to departing our Eucharistic chapels?

Do we struggle against the temptation to turn our churches into auditoriums, rehearsal halls, or theaters? Do we call attention to ourselves in needless conversation?

[My brothers and sisters] Like our Lord, we too must express the deepest respect for God and his house. We worship the true temple, the Lamb of God, in the Lord's Body and Blood, SO we have to be very sensitive to the reality that Christ himself is present in the most august sacrament of the Eucharist, and he makes a mere church building into the holiest place on earth. How is our attitude and behavior?

We don’t come to mass to socialize. We don’t come to mass to be entertained. We come to receive. We come to Mass to be fed and nourished by the Word of God –both in Scripture and in Sacrament. Let us open our heart, let us open our mind, and let us open our spirit[6].

Of course we must spend more time in the saving presence of the Lord, but especially we have to preserve in church a reverent silence for true prayer and authentic worship, let us make our parishes and church NOT marketplaces but holy places where we can adore our Lord in spirit and in truth ■

[1] His public ministry itself was patterned by his pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the great Jewish feasts, cfr. Jn 2:13-14; 15:1, 14; 7:1, 10, 14; 8:2; 10:22-23; CCC 583.
[2] Lk 2:22-39
[3] Cf. Lk 2:41.
[4] Sunday 15th March, 2009, 3rd Sunday of Lent. Readings: Exodus 20:1-17. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life—Ps 18(19):8-11. 1 Corinthians 1:22-25. John 2:13-25.
[5] The Ark of the Covenant (Hebrew: אָרוֹן הָבְרִית‎ Ārōn Hāb’rīt; Arabic: تابوت ﻓﻴﻪ سکینہ‎ Tābūt fīhi Sakīnihi) is described in the Bible as a sacred container, where in rested the Tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments as well as Aaron's rod and manna. According to the Biblical account, the Ark was built at the command of God, in accord with Moses' prophetic vision on Mount Sinai (Exodus 25:10-16). God communicated with Moses "from between the two cherubim" on the Ark's cover (Exodus 25:22). The Ark and its sanctuary were "the beauty of Israel" (Lamentations 2:1). Biblical account relates that during the trip of the Israelites, the Ark was carried by the priests (Numbers 35:5; Joshua 4:5) in advance of the people and their army or host (Num. 4:5-6; 10:33-36; Psalms 68:1; 132:8). When the Ark was borne by priests into the bed of the Jordan, the river was separated, opening a pathway for the whole of the host to pass over (Josh. 3:15-16; 4:7-18). The Ark was borne in a seven-day procession around the wall of Jericho by seven priests sounding seven trumpets of rams' horns, the city taken with a shout (Josh. 6:4-20). When carried, the Ark was always wrapped in a veil, in tachash skins (the identity of this animal is uncertain), and a blue cloth, and was carefully concealed, even from the eyes of the Levites who carried it.
[6] Cfr. M. Kelly, Rediscovering Catholicism, Beacon Publishing, p. 194.
Ilustration: Arch of Titus (Rome, 90 AD), Moving the Arc of the Covenant to the Temple in Jerusalem, detail of relief from inner face.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris