As the liturgical year draws to a close, we read from the books of the Maccabees and from St. Luke’s account of Christ’s final journey to Jerusalem.
Reading these passages simultaneously sets up a breathtaking drama regarding the Temple. The books of the Maccabees recount a number of great acts of heroic fidelity to the Old Covenant. Above all, the accounts climax with the first Hanukkah, when the Maccabees defeated the Greeks, cleansed the Temple of pagan defilements, and reinstituted the divine service.
The Maccabees had brought off a glorious achievement in the history of God’s covenant with His people. The city of Jerusalem rejoiced. But the story was not over. It was 165 years before the coming of Christ…
No one has ever loved the Temple in Jerusalem more than Jesus of Nazareth loved it. When Christ, too, cleansed the Temple, as Judas Maccabeus had done before Him, the only words that could describe the moment were: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
But: The Temple of God is not a building.
The Son of God came to reveal many truths, and among them is the fact that God builds His Temple in the hearts of His beloved children.
If we seek the “Holy of Holies” outside ourselves, we will search in vain. The Holy of Holies can only be found where God meets me, where the light shines that distinguishes right from wrong and shows me the path to heaven. In other words, the Holy of Holies can be found in the invisible center of myself, where I pray and submit myself to the truth.