Saturday, April 30, 2016

Blowing Hole, and I don't mean me!

Many years ago my mother and father took me on a trail ride through the mountains of Virginia.  After many hours we arrived to this place called the blowing hole.   Way up on the top of the mountain was this hole in the ground that extended down and out onto the face of a cliff.  It's unique shape caused the wind to blow through in a way that made it whistle and howl like a creature of it's own.   I had never been this high up before.  From there we looked down into Kentucky at the beautiful scene you see in the image I've included.  It gave me an idea of how big the world was.. how grand.. how expansive... it changed how I saw things.  In a sense, it gave me a vision that the world was much bigger than I had ever imagined.  I was not very well travelled and had only been out of the general area couple of times.

In tomorrow's readings John had a vision as well, a much grander vision than my own.   In his vision though he says this unique phrase that shows his eyes were opened to something that is world changing, at least to me.  "I saw no temple in the city for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb."  How astounding that must have been to the people reading this document.  The temple was the center of Jewish worship.. it was where God was... he lived in the temple.   Everyone journeyed to Jerusalem to offer their sacrifice and to be close to their God... yet here John is indicating a change of things.. The temple is the God and the Lamb.  How confusing this image must have been to the monotheistic religion that they practiced.   To accept that statement required a lot of faith, especially to those who connected the Lamb to a person.. Jesus.  How could God's temple be a person?

Yet that's exactly what we are challenged to believe in the Gospel isn't it?  "“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him."   St. Paul takes this even further by indicating that you and I are the temple of God.   Wow... imagine that rocking statement for a moment.  That we will be the resting place, the place where God will live.. the place where worship will take place will be internal, in our souls, in our bodies.   It requires something though... many will tell you that all we have to do is believe right? That it's faith alone.... yet if we take this scripture seriously, Christ indicates we must keep His word to become the temple.

For Catholics, that becomes very evident when we read John chapter 6.  That is the Bread of Life Discourse... if we keep Jesus word, he will come and dwell in us.   Whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood... has life.   The Eucharist is the key to being that temple.  Jesus told us to do it... he gave us the words, the actions... and he said if we keep those words, he will dwell with in us... then we walk forward and receive Jesus Christ, body, soul and divinity, in the consecrated Host and he comes to dwell in us.   Do you take that seriously?  This is why so many people worry about being irreverent in the communion line.. about dressing well for Mass... about silence in the Sanctuary.  Not because Christ doesn't accept us for who we are.. but because we are temples... are we acting like it?   Are we keeping them presentable?  When we go forward to receive Christ into this meager temple, are we disposed to receive that grace? Or are we just punching a card?

Then it's not just enough to be the temple.. we also go out into the world to bring God to them.   He is in our hearts, part of us.. we are the outward vision of him.. Jesus hands and feet for the world.  Are you journeying out into the world to offer them a vision of God? Or of your own version of God?  Is the temple you present to the world a temple fit for a King?  Or is it one you run down with the graffiti and decay of sin?  How do we present a proper temple?  The works of mercy.   Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving drink to the thirsty, etc.  Are you decorating God's temple with love and good works?  Or painting it with your own self ego and sinful desires?  We have work to do church.

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease."