The “In-temple-ment” of God

Luke 19.45-48
[45] And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold,  [46] saying to them, “It is written, `My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.”  [47] And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people sought to destroy him; [48] but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people hung upon his words.

John 1.14, 16
[14] And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father… [16] And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace.

I identify in these two passages a similarity articulated in these words:

  • “and he entered the temple”
  • “he we teaching daily in the temple”
  • “the word became flesh and dwelt among us”
  • “full of grace and truth”

The temple is the place where God dwells. It is not made with the hands of human beings. It was and is fashioned by the hands of God. Into that temple God enters (breathes His presence) to dwell forever.

1 Corinthians 6.19
[19] Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; [20] you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

2 Corinthians 6.16
[16] What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

When the passage for today says “He was … daily in the temple” it is not just saying Jesus was able to be seen in the physical temple in Jerusalem. It is saying that Jesus was daily in the temple of God – human existence. He became human and walked daily in the temple of His humanity and ours, teaching. That is to say, offering the Way, Truth, and Life of the restoration of the indwelling of God both among humans and within them.

The saving work of God (power and grace) of the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ is often called the “atonement.” But, that term is often used be the “preacher” to take the hearer down the road of divine appeasement, satisfaction of the wrath of God, dealing with God’s offended sense of justice, etc. I would like to humbly offer the idea that the saving work of God can be found, most deeply in the faith fact that the Son of God became the Son of Man – the Incarnation. Perhaps that is the subtle implication of the all too misunderstood term “atonement.” Perhaps its true meaning can be found in the idea communicated in the passages previously noted: salvation is choosing the journey of the “re-in-temple-ment” of God in mankind and the whole created order.

Pope Francis reflects on all of this quite wonderfully,

The ancient Temple was built by human hands. There was a wish “to give God a house”, to have a visible sign of his presence among the people. With the Incarnation of the Son of God, Nathan’s prophecy to King David was fulfilled (cf. 2 Sam 7,1-29): it is not the king, it is not we who “give God a house”; rather it is God himself who “builds his house” in order to come and dwell among us, as St John wrote in his Gospel (1,14). Christ is the living Temple of the Father, and Christ himself builds his “spiritual house”: the Church, not made of material stones but rather of “living stones” (1Pt 2,5), which we are.

The Apostle Paul said to the Christians of Ephesus: you are “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built… for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (2,20-22). This is a beautiful thing! We are the living stones of God’s building, profoundly united to Christ who is the keystone and also the one that sustains us. What does this mean? It means that we are the temple, we are the living Church, the living temple, and with us when we are together is also the Holy Spirit, who helps us to grow as Church. We are not alone, for we are the People of God: this is the Church!…

God is daily in His temple – you and me – or at least He seeks to be. Actually, even all human being. Are we a house of prayer? That is a question we all must ask, not matter on which side of the baptismal waters we live.

Perhaps baptism is the recapture, cleansing, rededication, and daily opportunity to, with a spirit of thanksgiving, “commune” with God. Perhaps my/our whole life of discipleship is the struggle (with fear and trembling) to live out all of this.

The rekindling of the light in the midst of the darkness.

John 1.4-5
[4] In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
[5] The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

And, therefore, what is prayer but the conversation of dynamic “at-one-ment,” the converse of love offered, received, and reciprocated.  The shining converse of the light. “In-temple-ment” is for the purpose of prayer not the converse (commerce — giving and receiving) of lesser things. Perhaps that is what Jesus might have been implying: you have chosen to major on the minors or you have chosen to seek first what does not deserve to be sought first. Seek first the kingdom, My “in-temple-ment” and all of the rest of what you need will follow.

Am I “the temple of God” a house of prayer – a location where others can encounter and have converse with God? The temple of God is a/the house to which all can come and into which all who come can enter and encounter the resident God who has “tabernacled” (pitched His tent) within me? Reestablished the at-one-ness of God and man, of God and the whole universe.

Perhaps this is a good thing upon which to meditate as I enter Advent which is the preparation for the celebration of the Incarnation (the “in-temple-ment”) of the Word of God. Perhaps God was given us to repossess and rededicate the temple of God by the Maccabeans a prefiguring of the struggle of our discipleship. The light shines again and forever where there had been an oppressive darkness. The light has vanquished the darkness. Perhaps that is why the readings for today are 2nd Maccabees 4:36-37.52-59 as well as Luke 19.45-48. Perhaps feast of Hanukkah and the feast of the Incarnation (Christmas) deeply inform one another and belong together.

Hmmm….

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2 thoughts on “The “In-temple-ment” of God

  1. Pingback: “The In-Temple-ment of the Lord” a.k.a. “The Feast of the Presentation” | Upward Call -- Gleanings On The Way

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