There is an ancient, millennial old, question - Where does God dwell? And there is a newer, but linked question - What is the Church?
Ezekiel , the first prophet to prophesy outside of Israel to those in exile, describes in a vision, the new temple where those with a new heart and a new spirit will worship -
"The angel brought me to the entrance of the temple and I saw watering flow out" he says.
This new temple is not static, rigid and inert, rather it flows to renew, sustain and sanctify life
Ezekiel continues to describe the inclusive scope of the new temple
“every sort of creature will be found there and on the banks of this river (this flood of grace) every kind of fruit tree shall grow. Their fruit shall be food (because it will ease hunger) and their leaves shall be medicine" (because it will ease suffering).
This new temple is not some place to go to (and passively sit). It is a force of Grace and Blessing that is active in transforming the world.
St Paul bluntly tells the Corinthians. - "You are God's building".
In the second reading he describes that he has laid the foundation of faith, the living temple, not with brick and mortar, but according to the Grace he has received, which is Jesus Christ.
In his faith Paul laid the groundwork, which others, in their faith will build upon.
This living church is alive and evolving, it is not stone but flesh, it is not courtyards but community, it is not architecture it is the Body of Christ.
This is where the Spirit dwells, this is where God is present and is where holiness pours forth like some magnificent river sweeping aside all injustice.
Both Ezekiel and St Paul have a vision that God's house that is not a building.
It is not someplace, but is every place where Spirit and Truth abound.
Jesus knew this. In fact, Jesus is the new temple.
In John’s Gospel we hear that the Passover was at hand and Jesus did what all good Jews should do, he went up to Jerusalem. Specifically to worship at the temple - his father's house.
He found, in the courtyard of the temple, a day like any other day, business as usual.
Money changers changed Roman coin to temple coin appropriate for offering and sellers of sacrificial animals advertised their product hoping to turn a decent profit.
Jesus sets this all on its head and he creates quite a rumpus, by his forceful actions.
This is the house of my Father, he yells, not a marketplace.
His words echoes Ezekiel’s own words "there shall no longer be traders and sellers in the house of the lord"
Jesus is simply reclaiming the house of God.
And this leads to anger from those who profit (not just monetarily) from the status quo.
Jesus, whose very existence disrupts unjust power. He confronted it directly until it became a life and death struggle with the authorities.
They cry out - what gives You the right to do what you do? They want to know in whose name is he acting ?
They want proof, some sort of evidence.
"What sign can you give us" they demand.
Jesus responds, (in spades)
"Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up"
This is insane they think. Here is a madman. No one has that kind of power.
Of course, they think he is talking about the temple complex, the concrete and marble place, in which they now stood - an edifice of power that had become a prison for God and a marketplace to profit from his imprisonment.
There was no further argument recorded, but you can imagine the bewilderment and anger that followed that encounter.
Instead, the narrator simply adds (showing us exactly what kind of power Jesus has) -
"he was speaking of his body"
A body, made holy by a holy life, that after his resurrection becomes glorified as the Body of Christ - the risen and ascended Jesus along with all those who believe in him and are baptized, in the Spirit, into his death and resurrection and who will join him to become one body.
This is where God dwells in freedom and truth and where he can never be imprisoned, not even by death.
"Destroy this temple (of flesh and spirit) and see it rise (in glory) on the third day"
Later the disciples, in the Spirit they had received, remembered the temple incident and Jesus words and his raising on the third day - and they believed. They became the Church.
Today, Mother Church has many names, but pride of place belongs to - the People of God,
who through their individual encounter with the Lord respond to the Lord's own desire that we have " a loving heart and knowledge of his ways".
You and I, here and now, as Church, humbly and generously help each other as we all stubble forward "climbing the Lord's mountain so that he may instruct us in his ways and we may walk in his paths."
This is the living Church reaching out to bring sanctifying light to every dark corner.
And this Church, God’s house, is always identified with justice and mercy, love and hope not with power and profit margin.
The living Church is identified as God’s presence flowing from its members as kindness and generosity, patience and humility, as loving service to all those in need wither that be within the family, the parish, or community.
The ecological slogan “think globally and act locally" takes on an expanded and sanctifying meaning within the community of believer’s as acts of charity and stewardship.
Ezekiel, Jesus and St Paul, all remind us that the living temple (where a God dwells) should not be profaned or lessened by routine and habit. We cannot reduce our faith to a specific building or a specific time and day. The Lord’s Day, is every day.
And must remember that the sacramental life of the Church, is never "old hat", never routine, it is always new, precious and nourishing and is always God’s grace flowing out as a river.
And we, the People of God, must not let the Church within us, the Spirit dwelling within, to be dulled, made indifferent, trivial and cheap by self-centeredness, routine participation and thoughtless living.
By our selfishness, indifference and thoughtlessness we become like those on the steps of the temple doing everything else, but worshiping (and living) in truth and love.
But that is not who we are.
When the world asks us - where is your Church we can simply say - here!
When the world asks where does God dwell we can answer by its negative – where doesn’t God dwell?But, to show the world where God dwells is to show them the quality of our love