Tag Archives: Jerusalem Temple

Lend a hand—as baptised people (29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C)

Reading

Jeremiah 31.27–34

 

Last week, we were reminded that Jerusalem was destroyed for the first time in 597 BC. That’s 2600 years ago. The city was demolished by the Babylonians, who were the superpower of the time. The Temple, God’s house, was torn down. And Jerusalem’s best and brightest were carried away into exile in Babylon, in the place we now call Iraq.

When the Jewish people were carried away, they felt they could no longer worship God. The Temple was gone. That was their only place of worship. So in Psalm 137 they sang,

By the rivers of Babylon
we sat down and wept
as we remembered Zion.
On the willow trees there
we hung up our lyres,
for there those who had carried us captive
asked us to sing them a song,
our captors called on us to be joyful:
‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion.’
How could we sing the Lord’s song
in a foreign land?

How indeed? As if broken hearts and broken spirits were not enough, how could they sing God’s songs with no temple?

The Book of Jeremiah countered this by telling them to put down roots, to grow food and have children, to pray for the welfare of the city of their enemies.

And when the time came that they could go back to their ancestral home, the Book of Jeremiah has startling news for the returning exiles. God says:

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel…says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

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The arc of the moral universe… Sunday 33, Year B (18 November 2012)

Readings
1 Samuel 1.4-20
Mark 13.1-8

Some of us are going on a tour of the Holy Land next year. I’m getting ready to be seriously impressed by the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The Western Wall is a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple’s courtyard. It is all that’s left of the Jerusalem temple that Jesus knew; the rest of it was utterly destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. The Western Wall isn’t much compared to the temple in all its glory, but it still impresses to this very day.

So we can understand one of Jesus’ followers exclaiming,

Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!

Of course, the temple would have seemed just simply staggering to a hick from the backblocks of Galilee.

But Jesus had had quite enough of the temple. He replied,

Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.

No wonder Jesus was all ‘templed-out’. You’ve got to remember the week he’d just had. It started when he drove the money changers out of the temple, declaring:

Is it not written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?
But you have made it a den of robbers.

Then day after day he had discussion (argument!) after discussion (argument!!) with the religious leaders about marriage and divorce, death and resurrection, paying taxes to Caesar and who was John the Baptist. Jesus won all these arguments, which just made the leaders angrier and angrier with him. And all the more determined to put him away for good.

And then the poor widow came along. She put a pittance into the temple treasury—two tiny coins which were everything she had.

And why did she have so little? Because of the way widows were left on the social and financial scrapheap by everyone. Including the temple system, including the scribes, who grew fat on widows’ misfortune.

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