Zeal for Your house…

"Zeal for Your house has eaten me up." [Psalms. 69:9-10]

Taken from the Book

The third Sunday of Lent, is called MIKURAB (literally -TEMPLE). It is named so because the day is meant to serve as a remembrance of the Lord’s teachings and acts in the Temple. Thus, scriptures read and/or sung as of the eve of the day have to do with this. The name is based on St. Yared’s song, remembering the miracles of Jesus Christ in the Temple, saying, 

“Jesus entered the synagogue of the Jews, and taught the word of faith, and said unto them, “I prefer alms to sacrifice!.. Honor the Sabbath, do what is good, love your neighbour, have mercy upon the poor and destitute; Jesus entered into the Synagogue of the Jews, and taught the word of faith for you to believe.” 

[Tsome Deggua Ze-Mukrab]

Zeal is a fire that burns. Holy zeal is a fire burning in the heart that seeks glory to God and salvation for all humankind. It is impossible to have a holy zeal and spiritual burn if a person doesn’t set its priority first to God and His commandments. God desires all men to be saved [1 Tim. 2:4]. The Gospel reading [John 2:13-17] today revolves around the use [and misuse] of God’s Temple. 

“Now, the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the Temple, those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business”.  

“Has this house, which bears my name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! Declares the Lord.” [Jeremiah 7:11]. God who loves the salvation of all mankind had to teach them a lesson. It was a terrific sight. What ought to be a holy place was changed to a place of robbers. Those people who sell and buy, including those who allow the exchange, did not only rob God the honor due to him but also prevented and distracted those faithful who came to meet God. God’s house becomes a hangout for those who put their own advantage above the Lord’s will and at the expense of others salvation. It has become a norm in our time that our church life deteriorates to the point that it is no more than just a social get-to- gether. Those now making God’s house a merchandise are those whose minds are filled with care about worldly business when attending prayer or liturgy. When people come to the Holy Church with the sole purpose of acquiring material possessions [be it money, or pleasure of food, honor or promoting politics] at the expense of losing eternal salvation and seek that which is earthly rather than a heavenly repeat exactly what happened during our Lord’s time. People who do such a thing for any reason have lost all sense of the presence of God while standing in His House. These sellers are also typing of the modern preachers who transfer the salvation provided by the Lord into a commercial business. Our Lord and Saviour has purified the Temple twice in his earthly service: – once during the first Passover, which took place at the beginning of His service [John 2:13]; and again a second time during the fourth and last Passover which was at the time of the Lord’s crucifixion (Matt 21:12; Mk 11:15; Lk 19:45). Our Lord needed to make His house in order at the beginning of His service and tear down/ abolish the commercial matter from the Temple, which is the Body of Christ so that it does not become a house of trade. 

“When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the Temple, with the sheep and oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! 

When Jesus saw that they were selling and buying goods in God’s Temple, He was very angry because he has a great zeal for the House of God, and He cast out all [the animal] that were sold and bought in the Temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves. Mind you, “He did not chase the sellers or the moneychangers but only the cattle, sheep and pigeons. Our Lord overturned the money and the tables. He came not to judge but to purify and sanctify. He came to mend the corrupt. In His eyes, one soul is more precious than all these animals and gold and money” [St. Cyril the Great]. He revealed his true feelings toward those transgressors not only in Word but in action. He always applies justly the proper punishment for people who rejected His Temple. When we say God’s Temple, its deeper meaning is – our body. St Paul says, “Do you not know that you are the Temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the Temple of God is holy, which temple you are” [1 Corinthians 3: 16]. We are God’s Temple consecrated through Baptism, Chrismation, and the Eucharist. Anything that destroys the Temple where God dwells, the body, is sinful and must be avoided – be it be with alcohol, drugs, adultery, jealousy, pornography. Defiling one’s body or causing carnal division among the believers is a defilement of God’s house, which we must keep holy. We need to be mindful that after God gave us all the blessings through the Holy Church — especially His Blood and His Flesh, that we are no longer just ourselves because the blood of our God is flowing through our veins and become members of His Body. This is why St Paul exhorts us saying, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” [Romans 12:1].  

Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise! ” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.” So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days, I will raise it up.”

Our Lord came to purify and build the true Temple within us and then presented us to His Father sanctified through His Blood. The zeal for the Father’s House indicates Lord’s love for the Church, “which he bought with his own blood” [Acts 20:28]. The “zeal of thy house” means a deep/desire yearning for the Temple of God. King David prays, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his Temple [Psalm 27: 4]. This kind of desire and zeal initiate true worship in His house that is pure which God would approve. We have been thought to be passionate and zealous for the Lord and His house, with the teaching of blessed Paul, saying, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” [Romans 12:11]. Finally, our Lord zeal [deeper love for us] has eaten Him up and consume Him at the Cross. His eagerness to do His Father’s will and care His House made inevitable — our salvation. 

The Church is the new and eternal life of the Kingdom of God given to us by God through Our Lord’s life, teaching, death, resurrection, and ascension in the Holy Spirit. We all are born into the life of this eternal life of God through the Sacrament of Baptism in the Church. Birth is not enough for living, we received the gift of power [Holy Spirit] through the Mystery of Chrismation to live the life of Christ and become the Temple of God Himself. Life also must be sustained. The Church has been nourishing us since birth with the Body and Blood Our Lord Jesus Christ, so we have eternal life. Our life in this world still remains with full of sin, sorrow sickness and darkness. We often sin and turn away from God. However, God through the Church has paved a way through the mystery of Penance the remedy of Spiritual sickness. He has made His true love for us so as we would never allow to be separated from Him. When suffering a physical infirmity, when the power sin takes over our body, He prepared a remedy in the Sacrament of Holy Unction to be healed into the life of everlasting. At its inception, God also left the mystery of the Holy Order, the sacraments of Priesthood, ministry of teaching and pastoral care by which the Church enjoy all the above sacraments through the Church in the Holy Spirit. The Church Clergy exists for no other purpose than to make manifest, present, and powerful in the Church of the Divine life of the kingdom of God to all of us while still living in this world. The Church is a vehicle through which God reveals Himself, His truth, and His will.

God bless. 

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