“You are a temple of God; the spirit of God dwells within you.”
1 Cor 3:16
The Second Vatican Council in the 1960s introduced many changes in the way Catholics worship. Perhaps the most significant change was turning the altar around and having the priest face the people. By that change the Council reminded us that God isn't somewhere way out there but right here in our midst.
Vatican II showed us that the foundation of our faith does not rest on a temporary and transient structure but on the permanent essence of Christ present among and within us. You and I and each of our brothers and sisters is indeed a Temple of God.
In next Sunday’s first reading the prophet Ezekiel gets an early and front row seat for that lesson. The Israelites of the Old Testament saw the Temple as God’s permanent dwelling place. When that Temple was destroyed during the Babylonian invasion, it was devastating for them.
But in the midst of that devastation, God's angel showed Ezekiel a vision of new life and abundance. He sees that the destruction of the Temple was not the end of God's presence among us but rather the beginning. In Ezekiel’s vision, the deserted site where the Temple once stood is being filled with abundant life-giving water by the Holy Spirit.
Saint Paul affirms this lesson in Sunday's second reading. He asks the Corinthians, and through them us, a powerful question: “Do you not know that you are a Temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells within you?”
Saint Paul tells us that we are each a new Temple. This new Temple is not out there; it is the presence Christ within us. We don’t need bricks and mortar, just faith.
God is truly present within each person, and each person is truly a Temple of God. When we disrespect the presence of God in another person through lying or cheating or exclusion or bigotry or meanness, we are disrespecting God. We become like the moneychangers in Sunday's gospel; we make the house of God not only into a marketplace but into a circus.
As we attend church to worship in a physical temple, let us acknowledge and celebrate that the presence of Christ is not locked away somewhere out there in bricks and mortar but present in each and every one of us and within our neighbor. And let us recommit to love and forgive and accept each other as God loves and forgives and accepts us.
Readers of this blog might enjoy these books by Deacon Lex. Both are available on Amazon.com:
Just to Follow My Friend: Experiencing God’s Presence in Everyday Life
Synchronicity as the Work of the Holy Spirit: Jungian Insights for Spiritual Direction and Pastoral Ministryhttp://www.amazon.com/Synchronicity-Work-Holy-Spirit-Spiritual/dp/1463518781/