YEAR A: HOMILY FOR MONDAY OF THE 25TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: Go back and rebuild the temple of the Lord.
BY: Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf
HOMILY: READINGS: Ezra 1: 1-6, Ps. 126, Luke 8: 16-18 (Memorial of Padre Pio)
The call for a rebuilding shows that a structure is in dilapidation or in ruins. It means that there is a major damage that has affected the structure and defaced and deformed it. It means that the structure has lost its beauty and originality; it is then a thing of shame and the talk of the town bringing criticism and shame to the owners of that structure and all who cares about it. This was obviously the situation of the house of Israel at the time Prophet Ezra wrote this piece. Israel was warned by God through many prophets to change their ways lest they be subjected to untold hardship and captivity in the hand of pagan rulers. They took the warnings for granted and thought that their friendship and covenant with God would not allow his justice to prevail. They were ready to enjoy the love and protection of God while making a jest of their own part of the covenant in the friendship with God. This was their attitude till the prophecy of the exile came upon them. The ornamented pride of Israel (The Jerusalem Temple) was destroyed to ruins while the holy vessels for sacrifice were used for idol worship by their conqueror. They found themselves in Babylon under the wicked pagan king Nebuchadnezzar. They were subjected to untold hardship till they started regretting and then calling on God in contrition of heart for his compassion and mercy. Then it was late but the love of the Lord which is everlasting and his anger that lasts a moment while his favour goes all through life met them again. God raised up among them while in exile a human redeemer in the person of Cyrus. The proclamation of God was: “God has charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah to rebuild the house of the Lord…”
Beloved, many times we do not heed to the warnings of the Lord through his ministers: prophets, pastors and priests not even the revelation he makes in our hearts through his spirit. We remain adamant and follow our own disobedient and stubborn ways. The consequences are always regrettable and enormous. The love of the Lord never abandons us but comes back to us through a chosen prophet to bring us back on track and amend our ways. Today the Lord has sent Cyrus to remind the remnants or survivors that they have been given another chance and graceful privilege to amend their ways by rebuilding what they spoiled by disobedience. Here we are talking about the physical material building called the temple; this is the dwelling place of God and his meeting place with his people Israel. Beyond this physical temple is the spiritual temple which lies in ruins. Our disobedience and recklessness has destroyed our spiritual temple and it is in shameful state. God calls us again today who are survivors, who have lived in spiritual exile and who have not yet died in our sins but given the opportunity to live till this day, to go back and rebuild what we have spoilt. St Paul reminds us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. God he said, does not live in a temple built by human hands but the one he built by his spirit in us. This is a more important temple. We may spend material resources building physical structures that are magnificent while the spiritual temple that enters there for worship is dead, decayed, soiled, dilapidated, stinking and in ruins; what a waste of energy and resources. The two temples which is of priority to God? Which is he calling us today to rebuild first? He does not need the silver and gold of the world but the silver and gold of your spirit and mind to rebuild.
Beloved, we are the light of the world and should not hide the light from the dark world to see. We must put our lives out there to be luminous and help the world to see. Make good use of the grace you have now and rebuild your temple and as light help others to rebuild as well. This would make what we have to be increased so that the little we have would not be taken away from us.
May the Lord bring us back from where sin has exiled us and rebuild our ruined spiritual walls. May we return back to the Lord full of songs as we carry our sheaves, Amen.
Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf