Friday, November 18, 2011

Dedication of Our Inner Temple

Today we have this beautiful reading at Mass from the First book of Maccabees (4:36-37,52-59)

Judas, who was called Maccabeus, took command of the army in place of his father, Mattathias, and he defeated the army of King Antiochus which was commanded by Lysias. Then Judas en his brothers said, See, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it. So all the army assembled and went up to Mount Zion.

Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-eighth year, they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering that they had built. At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. All the people fell on their faces and worshipped and blessed heaven, who had prospered them.

So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and joyfully offered burn offerings ... There was very great joy among the people, and the disgrace brought by the Gentiles was removed.

Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev.)

We have here a great account of rebirth and renewal: the Israelites had been reduced to slavery, their temple desecrated, and their identity lost as well as their self esteem. But starting from the revolt of a small portion of their people they have come far enough to be able to recognize the need and the possibility of restoring and cleansing the sanctuary, and they are now united to dedicate/consecrate it anew. The result is an explosion of JOY, and the realization on an astonishing fact: the disgrace brought by the Gentiles was removed.

It seems to me that this is a beautiful metaphor for our own soul and its ups and downs. It is a magnificent temple originally dedicated to God but often reduced to slavery when turned away from God.

When God is not worshiped, there is always another god taking over the worship. If God is not the center of our lives, I (we) become the center, and the result is selfishness, competition, violence, sadness... you name it, because there is no room in the universe for multiple gods, we inhabit a One God universe.

Thus if my life is not centered in God, the best thing I can do is to begin a personal revolution, like the Maccabees, against the tyrant who is ruling my life for its own benefit and against my greater well-being and good, against my own self-centered egotism.

I don't have to wait, like the Maccabees, until all my inner demons are crushed to re-dedicate my personal temple to the Holy Spirit again. As Catholics we have already a victorious Savior who has made available for us the way to our original greatness. We only have to present ourselves with our plea before the Throne of Mercy -the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Then we can experience the deep Joy of being reconciled with our deepest Center, of having the legitimate Leader who gives us identity and direction clearly before our sight so that we can not only follow Him but become one with Him.

No matter how hard we try to create unity among peoples and nations, the only way to true unity is becoming each one united to/with God, then we automatically become one with each other. Isn't that what heaven is about already on earth?

I think it's important to be aware that when the disgrace is removed -as the text shows us- the new temple is even more magnificent than the old one, and the people recognize themselves to be so much more privileged than before they lost their freedom and their temple.

Ultimately our journey on earth is about allowing the Spirit of Christ to fully take over our life in the complete consecration of utter surrender to God. This is the condition in Heaven, these are the saints -we were born to become saints, no less. And we will not be ready to join them until we have the same dedication of our inner temple to God that they had. There are not more or less saintly saints in Heaven, each and everyone of them is a saint because they have given their ALL to God -to the God who gives himself totally to us.

If God is not the Center of the whole of our life, then we may need to take a look at what are we using the journey for, because everything else will be left behind. We may be wasting our time and our life.

And also, once we have allow God to take over the whole of our being and life, our mistakes, errors and infidelities will mean absolutely nothing, as if they never were except, perhaps, that thanks to them and in order to overcome them we engaged ourselves in the challenging revolution of a serious Journey to our final destination.

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