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Select Homily
November, 17 2019

33 Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Rev. Tom Mannebach

 

Back then

it was all about the temple—

the Temple of Jerusalem.

 

It was the house of faith

in the one, true God.

It was home to the scriptures and the commandments.

It was the site of heavenly sacrifice.

 

The Temple of Jerusalem

was a like a rock of Gibraltar.

It was there to stay

because God was there to stay.

It was the one place

you could count on--

in good times or in bad.

 

But today

we hear a voice of dissent.

The Jesus of Luke’s gospel

makes a bold pronouncement.

Even rocks of Gibraltar crumble.

Even the most solid of temples

fall to the ground.

 

It’s a case of looking inward

before you can look outward.

Jesus sets his sights

not on temples seen with our eyes

but on the one, lasting temple

that God builds in our hearts.

 

The foundation of this new temple

begins at baptism.

From there,

It is a long, slow, building project

that sometimes gets our cooperation

and other times our rejection.

 

But God is a faithful, steady worker.

God promises to build us up

in ways that bring us joy and peace

but also ways that bring us scorn and sorrow.

We can never completely know

the structure of God’s life within us.

 

Maybe this is why

we sell ourselves short

or think of ourselves incapable

of revealing a sense of beauty

not made by human hands.

 

Instead,

when it comes to the life of faith

we are more comfortable

with the role of audience—

or maybe supporting cast.

We doubt or resist taking a lead part

in a particular role God has cast for us.

 

I once saw a show entitled,

“Last Letters Home:

Voices of American Troops from the Battlefields of Iraq.”

 

The show

featured letters written by soldiers to their families.

They were letters to be opened “just in case.”

Well, sure enough,

along came cases where the letter would be opened.

A few grieving families agreed to share their letter.

 

These letters expressed the soldiers’

love of family members,

love of God,

and their hope for healing and redemption.

 

To hear the words of these letters

was to hear the work of God

expressed in the depths of the human heart.

They reveal a temple

not made by human hands

but in God’s image and likeness.

 

These soldiers

were no canonized saints.

They were no mystics or sages.

They were ordinary people

who reveal God’s extraordinary grace.

 

In the end,

it would seem that holiness

is not the province of a few

but a temple given to many.

 

The spirit of God

gives structure to our lives.

The Spirit forms us and leads us

so that we can give shape to our church,

our community, and our world.

 

Truth be told,

it is all about the temple.

Not the one that crumbles and falls

but the one that endures through the ages

and delivers us into eternity.

  

© Rev. Tom Mannebach

 

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