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Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

1 Macc. 4:36-37, 52-59 & Lk. 19:45-48

The rededication of the Temple, after Judas Maccabeus recaptured it from the king who had desecrated it, is recounted in today's first reading. The celebrations went on for eight days. This is the historic origin of the Jewish Hanukah, the Feast of Lights, a celebration of reconsecration.

In today’s Gospel passage we find Our Lord in the Temple and He is very irate. It was because of the business activity that was taking place there. This was, in a sense, a profanation of God’s house. The Temple of Jerusalem contained, veiled behind a massive curtain, the Holy of Holies, where God’s mysterious presence dwelt. Jesus was deeply offended by the commercialisation as animals for sacrifice were sold, foreign currency exchanged and goods bartered. The Temple had the appearance of a marketplace.

Perhaps Jesus could have tolerated these activities if they had been conducted in an honest way. But He was indignant at the dishonesty of the merchants. This was the reason why He cleansed His Father's House with more than a little righteous anger.

I have preached in many churches and a complaint made to me by many a priest and parishioner is that often their churches, too, are like marketplaces, with some people talking too much and showing little or no reverence for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Some priests even display a notice in a prominent place that silence should be observed in the church and it makes no difference! Isn’t this sad? I remember when I visited Buckingham Palace to receive the MBE from Her Majesty the Queen, I was struck by the silence and reverence shown to her. Yet when Catholics come to the home of Jesus, the King of Kings, He is not given that same reverence! It can only mean people are not aware that the King of Kings is truly present, in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in our Catholic churches. If they were they would show Him the same reverence her Majesty the Queen is shown in Buckingham Palace!

Jesus was on fire with zeal for the house of His Father and determined that it be respected as a house of prayer. Silence, worship and prayer are elements that should be an essential part of every visit to a church, especially for Sunday Mass. In the tabernacle of every Catholic Church, Our Lord is present in the Eucharist as a prisoner of love waiting to enter into dialogue with us. We are never closer to Heaven than when we are before Our Eucharistic Lord. Yet we can forget this truth. Our postures, chatter and dress might contribute to a general profanation of God’s house. Do we try to remember every time we enter a church that we are standing before Our Lord who made Heaven and Earth? Can others see that we believe Jesus is really present in the Eucharist? Is He the centre of our attention? Can we put aside all distractions?

Lord Jesus, if there have been times when we entered Church distractedly and forgotten that You were present, we beg Your forgiveness as we ask to be zealous witnesses of Your love. Help us to honour our promise to show You greater reverence in the Blessed Sacrament in future.

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