Mon, 10 February 2020
(1Kgs.8:22-23,27-30; Ps.84:2-5,10-11; Mk.7:1-13)
“Can it indeed be that God dwells among men on earth?”
Well does Solomon do in stating, “If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you, how much less this temple which I have built!” For though the Lord will heed Solomon’s prayer and “listen to the petitions of [His] servant and of [His] people Israel which they offer in this place,” He indeed will only “keep [His] covenant of kindness with [His] servants who are faithful to [Him] with their whole heart.” When they do as the Pharisees and “disregard God’s commandment and cling to what is human tradition,” when they hold fast only to the walls of the temple and neglect to keep His Word, the blessing He provides through the temple they built shall be removed from their midst – the walls themselves shall crumble (as even they do, not many generations from Solomon’s time).
The Pharisees indeed sin by clinging to the walls, by a scrupulous observance of care for the body even as the soul rots. They carefully wash hands and food and “cups and jugs and kettles” but forego the cleansing of their hearts within. And so they “nullify God’s word in favor of the traditions [they] have handed on”; they ornament the walls of the temple, but God is not within. They indeed fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy: “This people pays me lip service but their heart is far from me.”
Brothers and sisters, do we pray in truth? Do our “heart and [our] flesh cry out for the living God”? Can we say with our psalmist, “My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord,” for His holy presence? If it is so that we treasure the Lord above all, then we shall be as “the sparrow [who] finds a home, and the swallow [who has] a nest in which she puts her young” – then we shall dwell happily in the house of God and He shall hear our prayers. For in truth the Lord Jesus has come to dwell among men on earth; the true Temple walks among us. No longer need we be separated from God or anxiously fear the loss of His presence. The temple walls and the traditions developed to protect us from uncertainty no longer must be clung to, for here are the temple walls in the flesh of Christ, and here is the cleansing we need in the shedding of His blood. And His Church now is alive in the Spirit of God and is moving everywhere. Let us enter its eternal walls and find true reverence there. In this place He shall answer all our prayers.
O LORD, we cry out to you:
let us look upon the face of your anointed
that we might be cleansed of our sin.
YHWH, make us faithful to your Word with our whole heart; let us worship you in spirit and in truth. Let us not merely cling to traditions men have devised, let us not set our sights on the walls of the temple but enter inside and there find you present in your Son. O let us dwell in your House forever!
Jesus is the Temple where you dwell, O LORD our God. For Him our souls thirst, for it is you, the living God, our hearts desire. And so, let us not be distracted by the gleam of the stones erected in your NAME. Let us find in these houses of prayer a place to offer you fitting sacrifice, a place where you indeed dwell and where you listen to our cries… But let us know all the while that even the highest heavens cannot contain you, that you transcend our thoughts and all the works of our hands.
Make us, O LORD, as your temple – in your presence let us remain.