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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Friday of the Thirty-third Week 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».
Versicle 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 proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” And every day he was teaching in the temple area. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death, but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were 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 casting out of the temple the merchants who were selling their offerings to their victims 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 the question. St. John will define this new cultural relationship as “God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and 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 Saint Luke linked the scene of the purification of the temple with Jesus preaching there every day. The new worship is centered in the prayer and in the hearing of God's Word. But, in fact, the central core 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. Saint Thomas also beautifully remarks it: “Recumbens cum fratribus (...) se dat suis minibus” (“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 hanging on his words” (Lk 19:48), we do not have to go to the temple to make sacrifices in order 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.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “Therefore, all run together as into one temple of God, as to one altar, as to one Jesus Christ who came forth from one Father, and is with and has gone to one" (Saint Ignatius of Antioch)

  • “The temple with its worship is "demolished" with Christ’s crucifixion; Its place is now taken by the living Ark of the Covenant – the crucified and risen Christ.” (Benedict XVI)

  • “Jesus went up to the Temple as the privileged place of encounter with God. For him, the Temple was the dwelling of his Father… After his Resurrection his apostles retained their reverence for the Temple (Cf. Acts 2:46).” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 584)