My House Is A House Of Prayer
After his first military victories over the Syrians, Judas Maccabeus wanted to restore legitimate worship. He had the desecrated Temple cleansed and consecrated anew, rebuilt the altar, and offered the sacrifice in accordance with the Law.
Jesus drove out the merchants from the Temple and it might be a good time to ask ourselves: What has the Lord to drive out from us to make us better Christians? What stands in the way of being closer to him in the life of every day? What matters for us Christians is that we are attached to the Lord and close to the people he has entrusted to us. Then, we can worship him with our whole life.
1 Reading: 1 Maccabees 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: 1 Chronicles 29:10bcd, 11abc, 11d-12a, 12bcd
R. (13b) We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
“Blessed may you be, O LORD,
God of Israel our father,
from eternity to eternity.” R.
“Yours, O LORD, are grandeur and power,
majesty, splendor, and glory.
For all in heaven and on earth is yours.” R.
“Yours, O LORD, is the sovereignty;
you are exalted as head over all.
Riches and honor are from you.” R.
“You have dominion over all,
In your hand are power and might;
it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all.” R.
Alleluia: John 10:27
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Luke 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.
Our first reading today recounts the rededication of the temple by Judas and his brothers, recalled today in the Jewish feast of Hanukkah. The temple had been desecrated with the blasphemies of Antiochus Epiphanes. Judas and his company constructed the altar of burnt sacrifices and offered sacrifice there according to the precepts of the law. On the anniversary date of defilement, rededication took place, with the participation of musicians as well as many public worshipers. For eight days following the dedication, the feast and work on the temple continued. It was decided that the feast should be solemnly celebrated each year to commemorate the end of the period of persecution and blasphemy.
Jesus shows his respect for the temple in today’s Gospel with the ejection of vendors from the temple area. What had begun as a convenient space for visitors from other parts of the country to buy the necessities for the sacrifices that they were to offer had become a place of commerce.
The action is also an implicit Lucan acknowledgement that God does not dwell in houses made by human hands (Acts 7:1-53).
Christianity has always had churches of particular reverence, but never a single place of distinct, or obligatory, worship. The reason for this is clear from the Gospels. The risen Jesus is the locus of sacred worship; he is the unique tabernacle of the new dispensation. In addition, he now shares the Spirit with his followers, with the result that they too become temples of God. Or with the Johannine Jesus, we worship God not on Mount Gerizim nor in Jerusalem but in spirit and truth.
By his word and actions, Jesus has spoken to us today that we must serve God as he himself did: in spirit and in truth, that is: our everyday living must correspond to what we believe, in loyal service of God and people. May God bless you and guide you: the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!