Daily Homily: The Glory of the Lord Left the Threshold of the Temple

Wednesday of the 19th Week in Ordinary Time, Year Two

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Ezekiel 9:1-7; 10:18-22
Psalm 113:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Matthew 18:15-20

The prophet Ezekiel carried out a series of prophetic actions that lead to his vision of the departure of the Glory of the Lord from the Temple. Shortly after eating the scroll with words of lamentation and mourning and woe, Ezekiel goes out to meet the exiles by the river Chebar. After seven days, the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel and appointed him as a watchman for the house of Israel. He is commissioned to warn the rebellious house.

Ezekiel makes a model of the city of Jerusalem and shows it besieged. He lies beside the model on his left side for 390 days symbolizing the years of punishment of the house of Israel and on his right side for forty days symbolizing the years of punishment of the house of Judah (4:1-8).

Ezekiel also cuts out his beard and hair. A third he burns; a third he strikes with the sword; a third he scatters into the wind. This symbolizes that because the people have defiled God’s sanctuary, a third will die of pestilence and famine, a third will fall by the sword and a third will be scattered (Ezekiel 5:12).

The prophet preaches about judgment against Israel for their idolatry and foretells an impending doom. This culminates in a vision (592 B.C.) of abominations taking place in the Temple. Once again Ezekiel sees one having the appearance of a man, who shows him «vile abominations» in the court. Ezekiel writes: «I went in and saw; and there, portrayed upon the wall round about, were all kinds of creeping things, and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel» (8:10). Before the idols stood the seventy elders of the house of Israel burning incense to them. In the inner court of the house of the Lord, Ezekiel sees twenty-five men with their backs to the Temple of the Lord, worshiping the sun (8:16).

Because of these sins of idolatry in the Temple, the prophet «announces judgment and describes how [the Lord], in his chariot throne, moves to the threshold of the Temple (9:3), heads to the inner court (10:3-4), moves to the east gate (the main processional gate that leads to the Temple; 10:19), finally departs the city and alights on the mountain to the east of Jerusalem (11:23)» (T. Leclerc, Introduction to the Prophets, Paulist Press, 293).

Towards the end of his prophetic book, Ezekiel will see the Glory of the Lord enter the restored Temple (43:1-5). However, when the exiles return from Babylon to Jerusalem and the temple is rebuilt and dedicated in 516 B.C., there is silence about the glory of the Lord. It does not return to the second temple. In the years that follow, the prophet Malachi foretells the return of the Lord to the Temple in order to purify the people (Malachi 3:1).

The New Testament speaks of the glory of God in Christ. John says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and in Christ we behold the glory of the only begotten Son of God. Luke records the song of the angels at Christ’s birth: «Glory to God in the highest!». Furthermore, the prophesy of Malachi is initially fulfilled on the occasion of the presentation of Jesus in the temple. Simeon takes the child Jesus into his arms and says that he has seen the salvation of God, a light of revelation for the Gentiles, and glory for Israel (Luke 2:29-32). Jesus will cleanse the temple and points to his Resurrection as the building of the New Temple of God, where men and women will worship God in spirit and truth.

The Church, the Body of Christ, is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. «What was foreshadowed in the old Temple, is fulfilled by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the Church: the Church is the ‘House of God’, the place of his presence, where we can find and meet the Lord; the Church is the Temple where the Holy Spirit dwells, the Spirit who animates, guides and sustains the Church» (Pope Francis, 26 June 2013).

In the Gospel, Jesus gives guidelines for dealing with sin in our Christian communities. If our brother or sister offends us, we should first tell them and seek to be reconciled with them. If they do not listen to us, then bring the testimony of witnesses of the offense. If they still refuse to listen, tell the Church. The goal here is reestablishing communion. If the person remains in their sin, they break themselves off from that communion.

In contrast to those who sin against one another, Jesus refers today to another situation – those who pray together in Christ’s name. The prayer of Christ’s disciples is united to the prayer of Christ before his Father. When a child asks his Father for something good, a good Father will give them all that they need.

Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.

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Jason Mitchell

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