Rebuilding the place of worship
Today’s first reading (1 Maccabees 4:36-37,52-59) hits the highlights, but the verses that were omitted (probably in deference to shortened attention spans) contain wonderful details that are worth our individual reflection.
It can be especially beneficial for us to read the entire passage while thinking about ourselves as temples of God, as places of worship.
Consider how we may find prayer difficult: how we feel after being overrun by the distractions and the distortions of today’s world.
They found the sanctuary desolate,
the altar desecrated,
the gates burnt,
weeds growing in the courts
as in a forest or on some mountain,
and the priests' chambers demolished.
Consider our grief and repentance.
Then they tore their clothes
and made great lamentation;
they sprinkled their heads with ashes
and fell with their faces to the ground.
And when the signal was given with trumpets,
they cried out to Heaven.
With the Lord’s help, we must deal with the distractions, misunderstandings and bad habits that have cluttered up our spiritual lives.
Judas appointed men to attack those in the citadel,
while he purified the sanctuary.
He chose blameless priests, devoted to the law;
these purified the sanctuary
and carried away the stones of the Abomination
to an unclean place.
With God’s grace we must also rebuild and rehabilitate our interior prayer life.
Then they took uncut stones, according to the law,
and built a new altar like the former one.
They also repaired the sanctuary
and the interior of the temple
and purified the courts.
They made new sacred vessels
and brought the lampstand,
the altar of incense,
and the table
into the temple.
Then they burned incense on the altar
and lighted the lamps on the lampstand,
and these illuminated the temple.
They also put loaves on the table
and hung up curtains.
Thus they finished all the work they had undertaken.
Then, in the quiet of our grace-renewed spirit, we may rejoice and give thanks in the glory of the Holy Spirit.
For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar
and joyfully offered burnt offerings and sacrifices
of deliverance and praise.
That the rededication of the Temple is commemorated annually
reminds us that we should make a habit
(annually or even more often)
of taking the time and the care
to rededicate our interior temples:
to let the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
and the power of his Holy Spirit
sweep through us
and fill us with a fresh, joyful awareness
and worshipful appreciation
of the presence of God.