Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(Haggai 2:1-9; Luke 9:18-22)
“Nine-eleven” was such an outrageous assault on the United States not only because it claimed so many lives but also because it attempted to destroy the nation’s dominant symbols. Its perpetrators were able to bring down the World Trade Center, the symbol of economic power, and to damage the Pentagon, the symbol of military power. The terrorists who hijacked the fourth airliner may well have targeted the White House or the Capitol – centers of political power before they were thwarted The first reading today similarly focuses on a potent national symbol.
The Temple became the center of Jewish worship and of Jerusalem’s economic life. Its original construction by King Solomon was laden with riches. Its reconstruction after the Exile – the focus of the reading today – was necessarily humbler given the hardship of the people during these times. Its final version, engineered by King Herod, contained the largest area dedicated to sacred worship in ancient times. Jerusalemites lived off the revenue received from pilgrims visiting its confines.
The Roman army destroyed Herod’s Temple in 70 A.D., an event which ended the Jewish legacy of Temple worship. The Gospels of Mark and Matthew, however, see the Temple functionally destroyed with the crucifixion of Jesus and then rebuilt in three days with his resurrection. The new Temple, which is not a physical structure but a spiritual one, fulfills Haggai’s prophecy. God has brought peace to earth because in the Body of Christ -- that is, the Church -- people of every nation give glory to God by living justly and lovingly.