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Homilies | Thursday, March 30, 2023

Now Jesus dwells in a new temple

Archbishop Wenski's homily at daily Mass with Pastoral Center employees

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily during the daily Mass at St. Martha Church, Miami Shores, March 30, 2023. The Mass concluded the annual Lenten morning of reflection with Pastoral Center employees.

Sometimes, the Jewish leaders misunderstand what Jesus is saying; and other times, they understand all too well. So, when Jesus says, “Whoever keeps my word will never see death,” they take it literally as referring to physical death. But then they do understand the implications of what Jesus is saying as he tells them that he is greater than Abraham and the prophets. And when Jesus uses the term “I AM” in speaking of himself, they do understand that he is identifying himself with YAHWEH, the name God revealed to Moses when he said: I AM WHO I AM.

For the Jewish leaders this was blasphemy – and they wanted to stone him. Even today, in the Middle East, blasphemy is considered a capital offense. But the hour of Jesus had not yet come and so he escapes them – but today’s Gospel reading points us to that hour – which we will celebrate during Holy Week. In fact, the final words of today’s Gospel are words of prophetic significance. “Jesus hid himself and left the temple.”

Jesus “hid himself” in his humanity. That he is God is mostly concealed – except to those who have eyes of faith. Jesus’ divinity would be hidden during the Passion.

In the holy Eucharist, Jesus’ humanity and divinity are both hidden under the appearances of bread and wine. St. Paul speaks of Jesus’ “kenosis” – his emptying of his self: though he was God he took the form of a slave dying on the cross. The Holy Eucharist is a further “kenosis.”

“... and (He) left the Temple.” When Jesus died on the cross, the veil guarding the Holy of Holies in the Temple was torn apart. This was a sign that God left the temple – he was no longer there.

Now he dwells in a new temple, not a building, but a people, the Church, the Body of the Risen Christ.

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