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JESUS PURIFIES OUR TEMPLE
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Friday, 33rd Week of the Year, November 22, 2013
1 Macc. 4:36-37, 52-59, 1 Cro. 29, Luke 19:45-48


"And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, ‘It is written, "My house shall be called a house of prayer"; but you have made it a den of robbers'" (Luke 19:45-46).


Today Jesus purifies the temple. Today the Jews also purify the temple in the year 164 BC, three years after its desecration by the Gentiles. And St. Paul tells us that we are God's temple (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19).


As Judas Maccabeus purified the temple, and as Jesus again purified the temple, so also does Jesus Christ purify our temple, which we are. It is he who purifies our temple by his sacrifice. It is he who forgives our sins through the sacrifice of himself on the cross. It is he who justifies us by making reparation for our sins through his suffering and death.


It is Christ who satisfied God's justice for our sins on the cross. He propitiated God for us in his death by making reparation for our sins. He suffered death for our sins instead of us suffering it for them, although it was we who should have suffered it for our own sins, for death is the punishment that God gave us for our sins (Gen. 2:17). Because he suffered it for us, he freed us from this suffering and separation from God, from this punishment, and gave us life, his own divine life, to sanctify us, and this life never dies. It overcomes spiritual death, physical death, and eternal death in hell. It leads to eternal life with God in light. All this comes to us through the Paschal Mystery, that is, through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.


Since Christ suffered our punishment for us on the cross, serving our death sentence for our sins for us, God declares us absolved of sin and righteous in his sight and makes us truly righteous. So instead of us being sinners, we are now made holy, that is, we are justified, and God fills us with the righteousness of Christ himself and makes us the temple in which he lives. This is how he purifies the temple, which we are.


All this is the work of God, the work of Christ. Then we are to avoid sin in order not to again defile the temple which we are. But if we do sin, we have to confess our sins and be purified again by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. It is the merits of his sacrifice on the cross that forgive us and purify us again.


As it was Christ who purified the temple in Jerusalem, so it is Christ who purifies our temple through the saving merits of his death on the cross. Our part is to come to Christ with saving faith and confess our sins, especially in the sacrament of reconciliation (John 20:22-23) in order to be forgiven, purified, and cleansed by him. Then we are to avoid sin; and to grow in holiness, we are to do God's will.


"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses" (Eph. 1:7). "Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ" (Eph. 2:13). It is "Jesus our Lord, who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our Justification" (Rom. 4:25).

 

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