Fr. Steve’s homily (11/09/2014)

There are many differences between the Temple of the Old Covenant, the magnificent building in Jerusalem, and the Temple of the New Covenant, the Body of Christ, which is also the Mystical Body of his Church, but there are also many similarities.

The ancient Temple worship ceremonies were limited to one sacred place, because the Old Covenant was limited to one nation. But now we worship in every Catholic church throughout the globe, because the New Covenant is meant for all times, places, and peoples; it is universal- which is what the word “catholic” means.

The Temple sacrifices and offerings were made with animals and grain, symbolic representations of earthly life, which the Israelites asked God to protect and bless. But in the Mass, Christ sacrifices and offers himself through the timeless sacrament of the Eucharist, and the real presence of everlasting life is given to us in Holy Communion.

The ancient Temple was built by human hands and was destroyed by human hands. The new Temple, Christ, was made incarnate by the power of the Holy Spirit and raised from the dead by the Father – it is indestructible.

When Jesus called himself the Temple, he used the word for “sanctuary,” which referred to the inner section of the large Temple area. The section originally held the Ark of the Covenant, the golden box containing the tablets of the Ten Commandments of the Law of Moses, the rod of the High Priest Aaron, and some of the miraculous manna from the Exodus.

Every Catholic Church in the world also has a golden box, a tabernacle, where the Eucharist is reserved. And the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ himself: the new Moses, the new and everlasting high priest, and the true sacramental bread of life.

Christ truly is God made man, and he truly is the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation, and God truly is ruling all of human history with wisdom, power, and love.

There are differences as well. Maybe the greatest difference between the old Temple in Jerusalem and the new one is that the new one is portable.
•St Paul says in the Second Reading: “You are God’s building!… the Spirit of God dwells in you.”
•At baptism, that’s what happened: God took up residence in our souls.
•Wherever you find a Christian in the state of grace, whether in a factory or on a farm, in a traffic jam or in a hospital– there Christ is too.
•We are living Temples of the one true God – not just symbolically, but really. This is God’s strategy for saving the world.
Today, the liturgy reminds us of all this, as we celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of the Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome, the first Christian church, which took place in 324 AD.
•That church building is ancient, magnificent, and beautiful, and when pilgrims see it they are reminded of the beauty of God and the trustworthiness of Christ’s promise of salvation.
•But it is only a symbol of the everlasting Church.
•When you and I look around at each other and look in the mirror, we see the real thing.

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