God’s Glorious Temples

5th Sunday of Easter
By Fr. Victor Feltes

For the Jewish people, the temple in Israel was the one place where they could offer Old Covenant sacrifices to God. Jerusalem’s temple was at the center of their relationship with God. So it was very disturbing to Jesus’ hearers when he declared in its temple courts, “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Jesus was proven right about forty years later when the Romans conquered Jerusalem and destroyed that temple in 70 AD.

On another occasion, Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” Some Jews objected, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But St. John’s Gospel tells us Jesus “was speaking about the temple of his body.” In the New Covenant, Jesus Christ himself supersedes that temple in Israel at the center of our relationship with God.

Here in this holy church building we encounter Jesus and his one sacrifice. In this church, this New Covenant temple, we draw near to the Body of Christ, in his tabernacle, upon his altar, in his Most Blessed Sacrament. And as if that were not enough, in this church through baptism and the Holy Eucharist we become the body of Christ.

After his Ascension, when Christ appeared to an early enemy of his Church on the road to Damascus, he said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Saul asked, “Who are you, sir?” And the voice from heaven replied, “I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.” This Saul became better known after his conversion as St. Paul and his story affirms that Christ’s Church is more than just buildings but his holy people, and that Jesus is now mystically one with us.

In today’s second reading, we hear St. Peter—the Catholic Church’s first pope—tell us, “let yourselves be (like living stones) built into a spiritual house (that is, a temple) to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” We are called to be holy, called to be more like Jesus, called to offer spiritual sacrifices to God not only at Mass but throughout our lives.

What good is a having beautiful church building if our souls do not become more beautiful too? Jesus says possessing pleasing outward appearances without internal conversion and holiness is like being a whitewashed tomb, beautiful on the outside yet full of dead bones and uncleanliness within. So having a very beautiful church building is not enough. Jesus Christ must be our way, our truth, and our life, for no one comes to the Father except through him. Yet, it is most fitting and right our churches should be supremely beautiful, reflecting the beauty of our faith and the beautiful glory of God, so that others may be transformed by encounters with Jesus Christ like St. Paul our patron was.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: