THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for February 12th, 2014
Liturgical texts here
WHETHER it is the Temple of Solomon, or St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, their beauty and splendor are types and symbols of a much more sacred temple: the human body. The Church is not a building, but rather the mystical body of Christ made up of the children of God.
…your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you… Therefore, glorify God in your body. (1 Cor 6:19)
How do we glorify God in our bodies? Today’s first reading holds the key: it was Solomon, the wisest of all men, who built the Temple, or put another way, it was the wisdom of Solomon that built, adorned, and organized the Temple. It was so beautiful in all its splendor that it left the Queen of Sheba “breathless”:
Blessed are your men, blessed these servants of yours, who stand before you always and listen to your wisdom. Blessed be the LORD, your God…
If the Temple of Solomon is a type of our bodies, which are temples of the Holy Spirit, then what are “the food at [Solomon’s] table, the seating of his ministers, the attendance and garb of his waiters, his banquet service, and the burnt offerings”? They too are types: the food symbolizes the Word of God; the seating—discipline; the garb—humility; the banquet service—charity; and the burnt offerings—sacrifice. In a word, virtue.This is what others should see in us so that, like Sheba, they too “may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” cf. Matt 5:16
Of course, you have probably read these words and thought, “Well, I am no temple then!” Ah! Good! You are already dressing your soul in the garb of Solomon’s waiters. Now, as for the rest…
It was wisdom that adorned the Temple. It is also wisdom which helps us to grow in virtue, for wisdom illuminates knowledge giving us a divine perspective on how to live, how to be holy.
…the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. (Jam 3:17)
So how do we attain this “wisdom from above”? Mainly three ways:
I. Baptism & Confirmation
Wisdom is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, and thus it is sealed in the souls of the confirmed, and increased in the following ways:
St. James wrote:
…if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. (Jam 1:5)
Every day I beg God to increase wisdom in me, most especially for your sake. It’s one Scripture that promises if we ask for this specific gift, we will receive it. (So what are you waiting for?)
The beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord. (Prov 9:10)
And fear of the Lord is expressed most purely in keeping His commandments, that is, obedience. Jesus was obedient to Mary and Joseph and thus, “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.” cf. Lk 2:40 And this obedience continued throughout His whole life. He was: “obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him…” cf. Phil 2:8-9
So we see a pattern emerge of how to adorn a temple. Before David died, his last words to Solomon were to follow in God’s “ways and observing his statutes.” cf. 1 Kgs 2:3 Solomon did, and thus God gave Him divine wisdom, a wisdom that made the temple beautiful. Likewise, Jesus was obedient, growing in wisdom, and the Father likewise “greatly exalted” His bodily temple. Lastly, if you and I are obedient in every little thing, without sway or compromise (because that is an authentic fear of the Lord), we too will begin to grow in divine wisdom, which in turn will begin to adorn our temples with virtue.
Conversely, Jesus warns in the Gospel that disobedience will lead one into the darkness of ignorance, turning one’s body into a temple of all manner of vice.
All these evils come from within and they defile.
Reflect for a moment on St. Thérèse. All she did was become like a little child, living the little way of loving and obeying God in all things. She was and is a beautiful temple of the Holy Spirit, adorned by the wisdom of God, that has made her a doctor of the Church.
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|1.||↑||cf. Matt 5:16|
|2.||↑||cf. Lk 2:40|
|3.||↑||cf. Phil 2:8-9|
|4.||↑||cf. 1 Kgs 2:3|