St. Paul begins our second reading today with the astonishing words: "Brothers and Sisters, You are God's temple." Hmmm. My eyes certainly do not reveal this truth. Nor do my feelings make me aware of this awesome reality. I look out at you, my brothers and sisters, and I see a community of very ordinary looking people, very much like myself. This must certainly be a hidden secret which is only known and experienced by faith.
I think of my friend, Sister Pascaline at The Forest of Peace in Oklahoma.
When meeting people she has the practice of saying within herself, "It is You!" Reminding herself over and over that this person is The Temple of God. No matter how our senses trick us into thinking otherwise, "It is You!"
There is a most practical application for Jesus Our Shepherd in the belief that we are in truth the temple of God. Our corporate identity rests in this belief. Recently there have been meetings of parish leadership to wrestle with serious issues which are arising among us. We find great diversity and wonder if this is an asset or a liability for this Christian community. If we can practice the discipline of reminding ourselves as each person expresses the truth they find within themselves that "It is You!" It is the Body of Christ : the Temple of God. God is not afraid of diversity : look around you at the diversity in nature. God is honored when people of faith bravely wade through what feels like "mud" in order to arrive at the sparkling, clean waters of life that run through our corporate body.
The presence of God within us could be imaged as the "fresh water" flowing out of the temple described in the first reading. This fresh living water flows from the east, from the south and from the north. It empties into the sea making the salt water fresh again. Everything around it grows abundantly.
This week I read the following quotation: "It is a patient pursuit to bring water from the depth of the ground; one has to deal with much mud in digging before one reaches the water of life." I find that I often see more of the mud of daily life : the challenges, the distractions, the politics, the misunderstandings : which hide the deeper, inner reality of the temple which God is building within me and within you. In truth, every situation in our lives is an invitation from God to find the water of life beneath the challenges.
St. Paul warns that we must be careful to build on the foundation of Jesus. As we make decisions in our lives Jesus is the benchmark by which we measure the rightness, the authenticity, the goodness and the justice of our actions. The more closely we follow His way : the foundation : the more light will radiate from the Temple which we are.
Last Sunday evening : the Feast of All Souls : at 9:30 p.m. : my 82-year-old friend Verena passed into the Light of God. I have never known anyone who radiated the light of God more than Verena. I met her at "The Dances of Universal Peace" which I attend monthly. Despite the pain of bone cancer she would dance with complete abandon and graceful beauty. There was nothing left in her that would block the radiance of God. When we know someone who has cleared out the mud and struck deeply into the waters of life we are motivated to continue the journey of more perfectly realizing the Holy Temple of God in the depth of our being.
Brothers and Sisters, You are God's Temple.
Please, repeat after me: I am the Temple of God!