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Friday – Thirty-third Week – OT2
Readings: Rev 10:8-11; Lk 19:45-48.
Reading 1 (Rev 10:8-11):
I, John, heard a voice from heaven speak to me.
Then the voice spoke to me and said:
“Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel
who is standing on the sea and on the land.”
So I went up to the angel and told him to give me the small scroll.
He said to me, “Take and swallow it.
It will turn your stomach sour,
but in your mouth it will taste as sweet as honey.”
I took the small scroll from the angel’s hand and swallowed it.
In my mouth it was like sweet honey,
but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.
Then someone said to me, “You must prophesy again
about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”
Gospel (Lk 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.
Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.
I. THEME: The purification of the temple
The worldly allurements and the busy life often make people to be ignorant of the truth and to forget about their ultimate goal of life. Instead of actively controlling their life, people let these things control them. For examples, people let merchants control their life by yielding to their wrong advertisement: in order to be happy, they must live in an expensive house, drive a luxurious car, dine in a well-known restaurant, drink a XO cognac bottle which costs the whole day of their labor. To have money for this luxurious life, they must find lots of money without thinking their way of acquiring money to be just or not. Some doctors examine their patient about five to ten minutes and charge them with the price of their whole working day. Sunday is the day to worship God, they also use for making money without thinking of damages to their spirituality and health.
Today readings invite us to examine our conscience to recognize idols in our life needed to purify and to expel. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Revelation was invited to swallow a small scroll to purify his soul before he can preach God’s word to people and nation. In the Gospel, Jesus was angry with the merchants in the Temple because they conversed his Father’s praying house to be the den of robbers.
1/ Reading I: The sweetness and bitterness of God’s word
1.1/ The sweetness of God’s word: After the sixth trumpet and before the seventh one, the author witnessed two small visions: the vision of a small scroll in today passage and the vision of the two witnesses in tomorrow reading. He heard a command, “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” So he went up to the angel and told him to give him the small scroll. The angel said to him, “Take and swallow it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will taste as sweet as honey.”
This opened small scroll is different with the big scroll with seven seals which only the Lamb has the right to open it. The voice coming from heaven probably was Christ’s voice. The Book of the prophet Ezekiel 2:8-3:3 had a similar event with this vision. The swallowing of the small scroll can be understood as the purification of Jeremiah’s tongue (Cf. Jer 15:16). It also meant that the author must completely understand of God’s word before he can preach to others.
The two contrasted results from the swallowing of the scroll, sweet as honey in mouth but sour in stomach, corresponds with the scroll’s contents: It announces the glorious victory of the faithful but also indicates the painful price they must pay before the victory (Cf. Rev 11:1-13).
1.2/ The bitterness of God’s word: The author took the small scroll from the angel’s hand and swallowed it. After swallowing the small scroll, he said, “In my mouth it was like sweet honey, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.” Then someone said to him, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”
Same thing shall happen for al the faithful. God’s word must be the lamp which guides their life. When they begin to learn, it is sweet like honey; but when they apply God’s word in their life, it becomes bitter because of all sacrifices and painful sufferings. Similar thing happens for the prophetic vocation, the preaching God’s word demands the prophet’s patience and endurance because not everyone welcomes the truth. The prophets must learn to accept rejection, scorn, persecution or even death to witness for God’s word.
2/ Gospel: The purification of the temple
2.1/ Don’t converse the Temple into a den of robbers: The Temple is the house of prayer. The high priests and the priests have a duty to maintain the holiness of the Temple; but they esteemed material gains over the worship. They used the Temple to make money and people’s faith to rob them. There are two ways they used to earn money.
(1) Exchanging of money: Jerusalem is the trading place of many nations: Israel, Greek, Rome, Syria, Egypt … They set their exchanging booths and get percent interest from the amount of exchanging money. Such exchanging booths are still existed in the present Jerusalem.
(2) Selling animals for offerings: All Jews who went up to the Temple must offer their sin offerings for their sins to be forgiven. They could bring their own cattle or buy them at local places with cheaper price; but these animals must be approved by the Temple’s priests. In order to meet the law’s requirements, many of them must buy animals from the priests or their relatives with a higher price. The main reason why Jesus was angry because they used religion to steal the poor’s money. He entered the Temple to chase them out, and said: “It is written, `My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.”
2.2/ The bitterness of God’s word: Jesus was very courageous to do this act because it hurt the leaders’ right. To protect their power, honor, and material gains, the leaders had turned back to the truth and looked for an opportunity to kill Jesus.
The temple needed to purify is not just the Jerusalem Temple, but is expanded to all temples of God in the world, to all temples of families and of individual, as St. Paul said, “your body is the Holy Spirit’s temple.”
To purify a temple means to return to God a highest place in it. The faithful can’t put anyone or anything above Him, because the first commandment teaches that. To purify a temple is also meant to treat others justly and with love. One can’t use any reason to become rich from people’s hardworking money.
The most effective way to purify a temple is to face God’s word. Even though it is bitter because the truth always hurt; but only the truth can set us free. As the conclusion of today passage said: “All the people hung upon his words.” Whoever refuses to face God’s word, or even worse as high priests and scribes tried to find a way to destroy God’s word, is to claim death for oneself. Such a temple, as Jesus declared, is no longer a place for God; but a den of robbers.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We must frequently purify our soul to be worthy as the temple for God to dwell. We also need to re-examine the motivations for our worshipping: Did we do them out of our love for God or because of honor, power and material gains?
– God’s word is the best instrument for the purification of our soul. To read and to meditate God’s word day and night shall enlighten our mind to recognize idols and sins dwelling in us before we can purify them.
– We must accept the bitterness of God’s word in the purification of our mind. To turn our back to God’s word or to suffocate the truth shall make our mind the place for Satan and sins.