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Homily - 8th March 2015 - 3rd Sunday of Lent, B

posted 7 Mar 2015, 04:07 by St Wilfrid RC Haltwhistle   [ updated 6 Nov 2015, 00:44 by StJohns Annitsford ]

8th March, 2015 - 3rd Sunday of Lent, B

H.B. & Hw.

We are faced with two sanctuaries. Today's Gospel gives us two sanctuaries. First there is the temple in Jerusalem. And then there is the body of Christ.

Jesus is in no doubt. Jesus Christ knows that his own body will be destroyed violently. But he also prophesies that he will rise again in three days.

And it is this resurrection, it is this resurrection of Christ's body that makes sanctuaries of our bodies. ". . . bowing his head he gave up his spirit." (John: 19.30) As the commentator says, "The last breath of Jesus is a token of the outpouring of the Spirit." The outpouring of the Spirit on all of us! And that makes sanctuaries of our bodies.

Hence, to pick up on an ancient Christian liturgical detail, the altar server incenses the congregation on a Sunday. In the same way as we incense the altar, symbol of Christ, the Blessed Sacrament, the book of the inspired word, the offerings and the priest, we incense the congregation, sanctuary of the Lord.

"It is the resurrection of Christ's body that demands of us that we attach to the human body the sacredness we so easily attach to temples made of stone." Hence humanity's shock and horror at worldwide torture, bullying and ethnic cleansing for example and much more beside. It is the desecration of  

what we are, temples of the Holy Spirit. And desecration in any shape or form leaves humanity appalled, deeply, deeply appalled.

Perhaps the non-smacking lobby is responding the logic of a sacred instinct? Timothy Radcliffe, ex-Master of the Dominican Order, said he never knew violence until he went to a Public School. My own father took the advice of an old Matron who said, "Mr. Pyle, never lay a hand on them," `them' being us, his four children. And if that does not get discussion going, nothing will!

So Christ's sacrifice redeems all humanity and attaches fundamental sacredness to us all. What are merely prohibitions in the Ten Commandments, "Thou shalt not ..." become self-giving love in the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Every desecration, from the smallest act of selfishness to every act of violence against the human person must disturb us as it did Christ. We cannot worship in temples of stone what we do not worship in the temples of each other. We must not prostrate ourselves in the heart of the sanctuary without first loving the sanctuaries of the hearts of all men, women and children. After all, the two sanctuaries become one in the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.

(After Fr. Gary Wade, The Furrow, February, 2006, Page 112)