From the Pastor – March 7, 2021

Mass Times across the United StatesJesus said: “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”  His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me.  At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?”

Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” (Jn. 2:16-19)

Two weeks ago Jesus was out in the desert, hungry and thirsty.  Last week, He was on top of a mountain, gloriously transfigured in dazzling white before Peter, James and John.  This week, He’s in the Temple, purifying it.  Most of us are familiar with the story of Jesus casting the money-changers out of the Temple, and most of us understand that the scene is more than about a beautiful stone building in Jerusalem.  Ultimately, the story points to the “temple” of the body of Jesus and even further to us as “temples” of the Holy Spirit.  But there is something else going on in this passsage.  While it’s true that the “worldly” things are cast out of the Temple, what is more important is that Jesus Himself entered the Temple.

Two weeks ago we heard about how Jesus overcame the temptations of the devil in the desert.  Last weekend we heard how he revealed His heavenly glory of God on the mountaintop.  In imitation of Jesus, we are called to overcome the temptations of the world so that we might obtain the glory of Heaven.

This week Jesus helps us to understand that we respond to this call not by our own human efforts, but with the help of divine grace.  We could never resist the temptations of the devil or obtain the glory of Heaven unless Jesus came to our aid.  He conquered sin and death by the Paschal Mystery (His suffering, death, Resurrection and Ascension), but we participate in this mystery by allowing Jesus to come into the temple of our own bodies.  He does this initially at our Baptism when we are first called “temples of [God’s] glory.”  This is the moment when the Holy Spirit cleanses us from original sin.  Later, at Confirmation, we are “sealed” by the Holy Spirit, and our bond with the Body of Christ is made more perfect.  At First Holy Communion, the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist enters into the temple of our bodies in a physical way.  These are the Sacraments of Initiation, and they provide the grace that God gives us to follow Christ from the poverty of the desert to the glory of the mountaintop.

In the Gospel, Christ enters into the Temple.  Today welcome Him into the temple of your soul.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty

Confessions will be heard in St Stephen’s from 5:00-6:30pm each of the next three Wednesdays.