“Ensuring that we carry the bag of holiness and sacredness in our spiritual journey!”
(Based on Rev 10:8-11 and Lk 19:45-48 – Friday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time)
A family of four were on a holiday trip – a ten day cruise.
They had a good number of bags with them – 13 in all.
As they were set to enter the ship, loading in all their stuffed baggage, the absent-minded husband remarked, “Oh, I wish I had also taken the white-coloured bag that was kept on our main table!”
The wife, who was pretty exasperated with the large number of bags exclaimed, “What? We already have more than a dozen bags, and you wanted another one?”
The man, sheepishly replied: “Well… our tickets are in that white bag!”
This humorous incident reflects an important dimension of our lives: We often miss out of picking up the right priorities of life!
In our spiritual journey, do we sometimes neglect in carrying the ‘white bag?’ – the bag of holiness and sacredness?
Do we sometimes end up missing out “the sense of the Sacred” in our lives?
The Gospel of the day presents a classic case of this loss of the Sacred Sense.
The Temple of Jerusalem is desecrated by a loss of the Sacred Sense and Jesus seeks to restore it by cleansing the temple.
“Then Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things” (Lk 19:45)
One of the basic characteristics of religion is the aspect of Sacredness.
God is Holy.
And all matters pertaining to this holy God, has a Sense of the Sacred.
Worship becomes meaningful, when one becomes aware of this Sense of the Sacred.
Preaching becomes powerful, when one is convinced of this Sense of the Sacred.
Liturgy becomes heart-touching, when one acknowledges this Sense of the Sacred.
The Gospel of the Day – the incident of the cleansing of the Jerusalem Temple invites us to make a deep examination…
Is my Worship of God becoming merely external and losing its inner values?
Is my Preaching of God reduced to great talks but devoid of conviction and passion?
Is my Liturgy more a ritualistic and obligatory exercise than truly an experiential one?
If the answer to any of the above questions is a ‘Yes’…
… then we are perhaps losing the Sense of the Sacred.
… then perhaps, the “bag of holiness” is missing in our journey of life.
The Jerusalem Temple was very dear to the faith of the people of Israel.
Worshipping in this temple was the ultimate for the Israelites, in their honouring of God.
At the Passover, Jews from around the world came to the temple to sacrifice to the Lord (Ex. 12:1-28; Lev. 23:4-8).
It was highly impractical to bring sacrificial animals long distances.
So they were made available in the Jerusalem Temple.
Most Jews also paid the temple tax during the Passover.
Since, they came from various places and bore pagan Roman seals, money-changers were there in the temple, to convert the Roman coinage into appropriate currency.
Pagan symbols on Roman money made it unacceptable for Yahweh’s house.
Where there is money, corruption slowly creeps in…!
Pilgrims had to pay exorbitant rates to change money, and sellers exploited those in poverty, overcharging for the poor man’s offering of pigeons and doves (Lev. 5:7).
To make things worse, these merchants set up shop in the Court of the Gentiles, making it useless as a place of prayer due to the hustle and bustle of the buying and the selling of goods..
Though not inherently evil, these practices became occasions for sin.
What started for a noble cause, led to immense corruption!
There began the loss of the “Sense of the Sacred”…
And this is so true in our own lives…
The beginning of the loss of the Sense of the Sacred begins with trivial things.
We allow a little delays and some relaxations in our prayer life…
And suddenly, we find no excitement in spending time in prayer.
We allow laxity and silence and indifference in our relationships…
And suddenly, we find no meaning in many of our relations…
We allow unpreparedness and disinterest to walk into our celebration and participation of Mass…
And suddenly, we find no meaning in the Holy Eucharist.
The loss of the Sense of the Sacred happens in a very subtle and quiet way.
And unless, we remain vigilant and careful, we can lose our way in the spiritual warfare.
It is this reminder and warning that the Lord delivers today, by cleansing the Jerusalem Temple.
“It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it into a den of robbers'” (Lk 19: 46)
Today we have converted many of the places into “dens of robbers”…
Today we have badly defiled the “Sense of the Sacred” in many places…
Cinemas and movies have a heavy stench of vulgarity and indecency.
They rob the society of its ethical culture and moral innocence.
Posters, hoardings and advertisements have become mediums of immorality and offensiveness
They rob its viewers of their principles and convictions in life.
The Internet and new media are badly misused to become snares of promoting life-threatening and life-abusing activities.
They rob its users of their proper purposes & instead addict them to many compulsions & cravings, which are hard to be given up.
Families and communities often become places lacking in genuine love, unity and peace
They rob one of the chance to grow in a spirit of sharing and understanding.
Our bodies are often manipulated with many addictions, improper practises and ungodly behaviours.
They rob the person of the purity and holiness that is engraved deep within.
The Cleansing of the Jerusalem Temple is a strong reminder for us, to check the areas and the manner in which we have lost the Sense of the Sacred…
We complain that the world is becoming more materialistic and less spiritual.
We complain that the Church is becoming more “worldly” and less inspiring.
One of the root problems lies in the fact, that we perhaps losing the “Sense of the Sacred”
Unless we are in awe of the God who has created this beautiful and majestic world, we will continue to abuse and misuse the world.
Unless we are in wonder of the God who has gifted the Church with life-saving sacraments, we will continue to blame the Church and lose precious graces that we can obtain through her.
Let us revive the “Sense of the Sacred”…
Let us cleanse anything which diminishes this “Sense of the Sacred”
Let us become a people who radiate with joy and enthusiasm this “Sense of the Sacred”
In our spiritual journey, may we never neglect or forget to carry the ‘white bag?’ – the bag of holiness and sacredness…
… ‘cos in them contain the tickets to heaven!
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Lately I was near the beehives and some of the bees flew onto my face.
I wanted to raise my hand, and brush them off.
‘No,’ said a peasant to me, ‘do not be afraid, and do not touch them. They will not sting you at all, if you touch them they will bite you.’
I trusted him; not one bit me.
Trust me; do not fear these temptations…