C Cycle – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 22
The crowd easily dismissed Jesus as he said he would raise the temple in three days if it was destroyed because it was impossible to build it in three days. They knew the history of the temple. The original temple built by Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians. The one they now worshipped in had been built after the exile and was completed in 515 BC. It is believed to have taken more than 30 years to build, but interesting to me is the first items constructed were the altar and the foundation. Paul tells us we are being built into a spiritual house and the scriptures tell us Jesus is the foundation, the cornerstone of the church. Christ is the foundation on which we build our faith.
Of course, his audience that day did not grasp the significances of what Jesus was saying because he did not fit their concept of a messiah. Jesus challenged everything they believed and everything they were taught about the Messiah.
Yet they desperately wanted what the prophets promised God would do for them. Long did they cry out for God to act and free them from the tyrannical rulers who oppressed them. After five hundred years of oppression, they desperately wanted the Messiah to show up and for God to fulfill his promise. Isaiah summed up their desire for God to act when he said, “O that you would rip open the heavens and come down with the mountains quaking before you” (Is.65:19). We are no different today, we want what God offers us as we live in a world which is still experiencing wars, famines, nation fighting against nation, earthquakes, hurricanes, and violence on our streets. Living is full of pain; sorrow and we do wonder when God will respond. But the real question for us is not where God is but how do we as Christians respond to Jesus Christ.
With all our understanding of who Jesus is and what his death and resurrection accomplished for us; we are no different than those who heard Jesus that day. We have two thousand years of history, doctrine, and faith formation. We know Jesus was not talking of a building that day. We know he was speaking about his own crucifixion and about his resurrection. But our knowing and acting on that belief is at the heart of what Jesus was saying to the disciples that day. It is a message asking each of us how are we responding to his death and resurrection.
Are we allowing the grace of God’s forgiveness to embolden us to act on what we believe, what we profess and acknowledge as the foundation of our faith? Or are we still wondering if have done enough to be worthy of the promises of God. The real issue for us is do we believe God has responded to every cry of the human heart.
I want to go back to those two things done before the temple walls were constructed, the laying of the foundation and the altar. Jesus, we acknowledge is the cornerstone, the foundation on which all we believe is based. His sacrifice as the lamb slain for the sins of all is acknowledged by us each week as we gather to celebrate and give thanks for the gift of Jesus’s sacrifice. Each week we encounter him again and come to be strengthened and filled with a zeal to go out into a hostile world and proclaim him as Lord and Savior. That is what we should be doing but do we. This gospel tells us we must do more to grasp the promise of life offered us by the death and resurrection of Jesus.
We can shake our heads at those who failed to understand what Jesus was saying that day. But we need to ask ourselves if we understand what the resurrection of Christ has accomplished for us. The cross allows us to see ourselves the way God sees us, worthy of the promises of God. But unfortunately, there are enough surveys which reveal we still feel unworthy and incapable of being loved by God. It is those kinds of feelings that motivate us to do things to appease God, to do things to make up for our sins. We find ourselves doing things to feel worthy of God’s forgiveness instead of opening ourselves to receive the grace of forgiveness.
We work to be holy instead of allowing the Spirit to change our hearts so that we become holy by the grace of God’s action within us and because of the grace of Jesus’s death on the cross. The cross made it possible for us to receive eternal life not by enduring the crosses of life but by trusting God amid suffering and pain. The cross made it possible for us to go before God as the woman caught in adultery did, with all our sins visible to God and still hear him say go, sin no more.
If today’s gospel does anything, it should have us ask ourselves if we understand how the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross removes all the barriers of sin between ourselves and God. Jesus by his willingness to be the offering for our sin made it possible for us to feel the love and forgiveness of God. It made it possible for us to be willing to invite the Holy Spirit into our lives to open the eyes of our hearts to see, to feel, to experience the power of Jesus resurrection and the great hope to which we are called. Jesus is telling us to trust in the midst of all the calamities of life we are called to be witnesses of God love and mercy.