22Nov 22 November, 2019. Friday of Week 33

1st Reading: 1 Maccabees 4:36-37, 52-59

The temple is purified and rededicated, at the first celebration of Hannukah

Then Judas and his brothers said, “See, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it.” So all the army assembled and went up to Mount Zion.

Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-eighth year, they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering that they had built. At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. All the people fell on their faces and worshipped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them. So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and joyfully offered burnt offerings; they offered a sacrifice of well-being and a thanksgiving offering. They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and fitted them with doors. There was very great joy among the people, and the disgrace brought by the Gentiles was removed.

Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev.

Responsorial: 1 Chronicles 29:10-12,

R./: We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.

Blessed are you, O Lord,
the God of Israel our father,
for ever, for ages unending. (R./)

Yours, Lord, are greatness and power,
and splendour, triumph and glory.
All is yours, in heaven and on earth. (R./)

Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom,
you are supreme over all.
Both honour and riches come from you. (R./)

You are the ruler of all,
from your hand come strength and power,
from your hand come greatness and might. (R./)

Gospel: Luke 19:45-48

Jesus drives traders from the temple. Authorities want to kill him but feared the people

Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.”

Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.


Purifying our own temple

We have read of the re-consecration of God’s temple in Jerusalem, after its desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes. Then, in the gospel, Jesus cleanses the sanctuary after its profanation by traders in the temple courts. We are invited to make of our lives and our church more truly a house of prayer, a temple pleasing to God.

Jesus grieved over Jerusalem for failing to recognize its time of grace. Then he entered the temple and drove out the merchants and traders. His objection is not to the ritual sacrifices as such, but to the abuse of religion for financial gain by merchants and religious leaders who were more concerned for money than the worship of God.

Purifying the temple means to make more place for God to be the guide of our lives. It means that our business and financial dealings, and our politics must be guided by justice and compassion. We should bring every aspect of our daily lives–family and neighbourhood, work and recreation–into the temple in this sense, so that they can be purified, sanctified and placed under God’s protection. At times, this may seem sweet and easy. But it may also require a conversion as radical as the cleansing of the temple. As we renew our attachment to God it will apply to us that, “My house is a house of prayer.” The full ideal is that God be worshipped by our whole heart and being.

Institutions need renewal

Jesus was angry at what is happening in the Jerusalem Temple. Instead of its true purpose of being a house of prayer for everyone, it came to serve the interests of a few. Every human institution needs constant reform and renewal, and that includes religious institutions, like the church. The Lord is always prompting us to reform and renew our institutions so that they honestly serve God, rather than our own purposes.

No human institution, even the church, is perfect; it will always be in need of renewal, because it is led by people who are tainted by sin. We need to accept this as a given, and be open to the Lord’s call to repentance and renewal. This was not put in practice in the Jerusalem Temple. After Jesus drove out the traders, the chief priests and the scribes tried to do away with him. To resist renewal is to resist the grace of God. Our journey in life, both as individuals and as communities, will always involve repentance, willing to keep seeking and doing what God wants of us.


Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr

Cecilia is one of the best-loved Roman martyrs, even if aother tradition has her suffer in Sicily under Emperor Marcus Aurelius around the year 180. According to the book of martyrs, despite her vow of virginity, she was forced by her parents to marry a nobleman named Valerian. During the wedding, Cecilia sat apart singing to God in her heart, and for that she was later declared the patron saint of musicians.

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