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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 (Rev 10:8-11): I, John, heard a voice from heaven speak to me. Then the voice spoke to me and said: «Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land». So I went up to the angel and told him to give me the small scroll. He said to me, «Take and swallow it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will taste as sweet as honey». I took the small scroll from the angel's hand and swallowed it. In my mouth it was like sweet honey, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Then someone said to me, «You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings».
Responsorial Psalm: 118
R/. How sweet to my taste is your promise!
In the way of your decrees I rejoice, as much as in all riches.

Yes, your decrees are my delight; they are my counselors.

The law of your mouth is to me more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

How sweet to my palate are your promises, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Your decrees are my inheritance forever; the joy of my heart they are.

I gasp with open mouth in my yearning for your commands.
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)