Dear Fellow Parishioners,
Last week we heard Jesus tell the priestly caste “Destroy this Temple and in 3 days I will raise it up again”. In this week’s Reading we look back to the description of how the Temple and the city of Jerusalem itself were completely destroyed and its entire population deported to Babylon 600 years before the coming of Christ. The shock of losing ‘God’s dwelling place’ from the heart of their community never left them and they blamed themselves for bringing about such a disaster through sheer neglect and disobedience. As we know they were allowed to return to Jerusalem 70 years later to rebuild the Temple for the first of what turned out to be a cycle of destructiveness and restoration that continued right up to Roman times when the need for a Temple was replaced - not by a building but by Jesus’ promise that he himself was to be the dwelling place of God at the heart of all humanity.
Just as the ancient Hebrew’s were called back to restore the Temple in their time, so are we being encouraged to restore God’s image in ours. We do not need a Persian king to bring this about but can rely on the realization that God loved us with so much love that when we were dead through our sins he brought us to life in Christ. “It is through grace that you have been saved, not from anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit. We are God’s work of art created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it”. (Ephesians 2:10)
In Jesus, risen from the dead, God’s original purpose of creation was fully achieved. Such salvation consists in our union with Christ, who, by his birth, death and Resurrection has brought about a new kind of relationship with the Father and each other, so that by the gift of the Spirit we are drawn to unite ourselves as one body with Him who has become the “firstborn of many brothers and sisters”.
As today’s Mass reminds us, we are to “Rejoice” in a life of Faith, Hope and Love. We will not manage to ‘live the good life as God meant us to live it’ unless we decide to believe what Jesus reveals to us about God and about ourselves. From this faith there will emerge a hope – a hope that things could be different; a hope that will encourage us to heed Jesus’ words and to ‘come out into the light’ (John 3:21). The result will be that we will find ourselves living from the heart, living a life of love, living at home, in the presence of God – at home with ourselves and so able to give ourselves to others in love. It is love that is the radiance of the work of art which each of us is. If you are concerned for the environment, let God make a saint of you. One saint can make this world very beautiful. A community of saints could make of this earth a paradise!