Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; And suddenly there will come to the temple the LORD whom you seek, And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire. Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who will endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he is like the refiner’s fire, or like the fuller’s lye (Malachi 3:1-2).
Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And he said to them, “It is written: ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:12-13) .
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said: “I will live with them and move among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. (2 Corinthians 6:15)
May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might, which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come (Ephesians 1:18-21).
On October 22 1978, Pope John Paul II ended his homily at his papal inauguration Mass with these moving words: “Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ!” Pope Benedict XVI, at his Inaugural Mass on April 24, 2005, concluded his homily with these words: “Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and He gives you everything. When we give ourselves to Him, we receive a hundred-fold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ, and you will find true life.”
What do these words mean to us as Catholic men? St. Paul tells us that we are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and temples of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:15). When he wrote these words, there was a glorious Jewish temple in Jerusalem. It was also this same temple that Jesus came to as a “refiner’s fire” (Malachi 3:2), and cleared it out by overthrowing tables and releasing doves back into the wild (Matthew 21:12-13). By clearing out the Temple as he did, Jesus showed that something new, something decisive had come and we needed the temple of our hearts cleansed so we could receive it.
The Jerusalem Temple is long gone now, but this Lent I believe God is inviting us to open wide the temple of our hearts and welcome him in. God wants us to open ourselves to all of Jesus—the Lord of Hosts who comes to purify us and make us holy. Yes, this will mean repentance, self-denial, the cross. But what’s all that compared to the end result? The more we let Jesus in, the more we know the joy of becoming holy people shining with the radiance of the Lord of Glory.
The grace-filled season of Lent is a time that calls for decisive action. No more hedging bets. No more sitting on the fence. Am I for Jesus or against him? Am I going to open wide my heart to him or close it? Are there ungodly habits or attachments in my life that have to go? The time has come to say yes to God’s call. If so, it’s time to give all of your life to Jesus for the rest of your life.
“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Remember that whenever God calls you, he also strengthens you. Jesus’ journey to Calvary may have been a lonely one, but our journey through Lent is not. Christ is with us every step of the way. So open wide your heart to the Lord this Lent. Take decisive action regarding prayer, fasting, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial — and watch how God acts in your life.
“Lord Jesus, open my heart and my eyes to the ways in which you want to purify me this Lent. Help me to take hold of your love so it can transform me. Come into my heart, and make yourself at home. Whatever it takes, make me your own in every way.”
Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing me to adapt meditation in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
[Maurice Blumberg is the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www.waupartners.org/), a ministry of The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) to the Military, Prisoners, and women with crisis pregnancies or who have had abortions. Maurice was also the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), for which he is currently a Trustee. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
2. “Open wide the doors for Christ.” What do these words of Pope John Paul II mean to you and how can you respond to them?
3. The article challenges us with these words: “The grace-filled season of Lent is a time that calls for decisive action. No more hedging bets. No more sitting on the fence. Am I for Jesus or against him? Am I going to open wide my heart to him or close it? Are there ungodly habits or attachments in my life that have to go?” In what areas of your life are you “hedging bets” or “sitting on the fence” when it comes to giving “all of your life to Jesus for the rest of your life”?
4. The article ends with these words: “Take decisive action regarding prayer, fasting, penitence, almsgiving, and self-denial — and watch how God acts in your life.” What decisive actions are you willing to take in one or more of these areas during Lent?
5. Take some time to pray for the grace to “open wide your hearts to Christ” during this Lenten season.Use the prayer at the end of the article as a starting point.