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Liturgical day: Friday 33rd in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (1Macc 4:36-37.52-59): Judas and his brothers said, «Now that our enemies have been crushed, let us go up to purify the sanctuary and rededicate it». So the whole army assembled, and went up to Mount Zion. Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, that is, the month of Chislev, in the year one hundred and forty-eight, they arose and offered sacrifice according to the law on the new altar of burnt offerings that they had made. On the anniversary of the day on which the Gentiles had defiled it, on that very day it was reconsecrated with songs, harps, flutes, and cymbals. All the people prostrated themselves and adored and praised Heaven, who had given them success.

For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar and joyfully offered burnt offerings and sacrifices of deliverance and praise. They ornamented the facade of the temple with gold crowns and shields; they repaired the gates and the priests' chambers and furnished them with doors. There was great joy among the people now that the disgrace of the Gentiles was removed. Then Judas and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel decreed that the days of the dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness on the anniversary every year for eight days, from the twenty-fifth day of the month Chislev.
Responsorial Psalm: 1Chron 29
R/. We praise your glorious name, o mighty God.
«Blessed may you be, o Lord, God of Israel our father, from eternity to eternity».

«Yours, o Lord, are grandeur and power, majesty, splendor, and glory. For all in heaven and on earth is yours».

«Yours, o Lord, is the sovereignty; you are exalted as head over all. Riches and honor are from you».

«You have dominion over all, in your hand are power and might; it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all».
Verscicle before the Gospel (Jn 10:27): Alleluia. My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me. Alleluia.

Gospel text (Lk 19,45-48): Jesus entered the Temple area and began to drive out the merchants. And He said to them, «God says in the Scriptures: ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’: but you have turned it into a den of robbers».Jesus was teaching every day in the Temple. The chief priests and teachers of the Law wanted to kill him and the elders of the Jews as well, but they were unable to do anything, for all the people were listening to him and hanging on his words.

«My house shall be a house of prayer»

Fr. Josep LAPLANA OSB Monk of Montserrat
(Montserrat, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, Jesus' gesture is prophetic. As the old prophets used to do, He makes a symbolic action, full of future implications. By throwing away from the temple the merchants selling the victims for their offerings and evoking that «my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples» (Is 56:7), Jesus was announcing the new status He was about to commence, where the sacrifice of animals was out of question. St. John will define this new cultural relationship as «God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth» (Jn 4:24). The figure must give way to reality. St. Thomas Aquinas poetically said: «Et antiquum documentum / novo cedat ritui» («Lo! over ancient forms departing / newer rites of grace prevail»).

The New Rites are Jesus' Word. This is why St. Luke has joined to the scene of the purification of the temple Jesus preaching there every day. The new cult is centered in the prayer and in the audition of God's Word. But, in fact, the center's center of the Christian institution is the living person of the very Jesus, with his own flesh offered and his own blood shed at the Cross and given to us in the Eucharist. St. Thomas also beautifully remarks it: «Recumbens cum fratribus (...) se dat suis manibus» («Seated with His chosen band (...) gives Himself with His own hand»).

In the New Testament Jesus inaugurates, there is no need for veal or lamb merchants. In the same way as «all the people were listening to him and hanging on his words» (Lk 19:48), we do not have to go to the temple to make any sacrifices, but to receive Jesus, the true lamb sacrificed once for all when he offered himself for us (cf. Heb 7:27), and to join our life to His.