Fr. Mike’s Homily for Friday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time Cycle I (1)

Fr. Mike’s Homily for Friday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time Cycle I

Theme: The wrath of God

By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

 

Homily for Friday November 19 2021

Lk 19:45-48

Then 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.

Yesterday, the Gospel was about the Tears of God. Today, it talks about the Wrath of God. Finally entering Jerusalem, Jesus goes to the Temple. He finds supreme joy in being inside His Father’s House. But when He sees the Temple turned into a marketplace, His joy suddenly vanishes and is quickly replaced with righteous anger. He drove out all the traders, quoting Isaiah 56:7, “My house shall be a house of prayer”, and Jeremiah 7:11, “but you have made it a den of thieves.’”

The practice of selling of animals and changing coins is understandable. Those coming to the Temple need to buy animals for the sacrifices and to change the standard Greek and Roman money for Jewish and Tyrian shekels, the medium of payment for the Temple tax. And Jesus understands that. What He cannot accept is the fact that this business takes place inside the Temple – in the Court of the Gentiles – thus depriving people from their rightful place of worship.

And the fact that the traders are able to do their business in this section of the Temple, means that they are supported by the Temple priests. Thus, being left with no choice, the people fall prey to cheating and all forms of exploitation. The Temple has, indeed, become a “den of thieves”. This explains why Jesus is rightfully angry.

Understandably, the priests are seriously offended by the Lord’s action. Driving away the traders hurt them in two ways: it is an incursion into their domain and authority, and it also adversely affects their source of income.

Hence, the chief priests needed to get rid of Jesus for good. He is exposing their hypocrisy, corruption and greed, and there is real danger they will lose, not only their moral ascendancy before the people, but also their lucrative business. Yet they find it difficult to do anything against Jesus: “They could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on His words.”

We can get some important lessons from today’s Gospel account. First, this is not a case of Jesus losing His temper or control of His emotion. Quoting Psalm 69:10, the Apostle John gives the reason for His unusual behavior: “Because zeal for your house has consumed me.” How our Lord wishes that all of us may have this same zeal! The Temple, the church or any house of worship, is the “House of God.” It should be treated with supreme respect, reverence and care. For us, Catholics, the church is a common sight in every community. This familiarity leads many people to lose the sense of reverence and awe. We see this too often in their behavior inside the church: the noise, idle conversations, gossips, cellphone texting, and not to mention the shabby and indecent attire worn by many.

But on a deeper level, the Gospel today reminds us that the Temple of God refers also to our physical body. The Apostle Paul said that: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1Cor 6:19). Our body is created by God. He infused it with the soul, and makes His dwelling in us. And so, St. Paul urges us to “glorify God in your body” (1Cor 6:20).

And finally, the example of Jesus is an inspiration for us in our role as prophets in these present times. A prophet speaks as God’s messenger. Being such, we stand for truth, justice and love. This is not simple and easy, though. This inevitably pits us against the powers of the world that subsist on lies, selfishness, exploitation and corruption. But this should not prevent us from doing our prophetic role and duties, for “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31).

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

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