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Temple Destroyers: Lessons in Mediation and Engagement!

1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19; 1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20; John 1:35-42

Our world needs mediators, those who point out the ways of God to others. These mediators must be credible and exemplary people. This is imperative because our structures are collapsing evident in the bleeding in church membership. The visit of Covid-19 intensifies the emptying of pews, because Christians do not know what to believe and whom to trust. Even their hope in democracy writhes from a recent American beating. Democracy in America has a symbol, the Washington, D.C.’s Capitol! At the moment, that symbol drags in the mud. The insurrectionists’ assault on the USA Capitol is viewed as the desecration of American Democracy. All those crying foul want perpetrators to face justice. However, God wants us to address the problem of Temple destroyers, if we must preserve democracy.

The Church is the Christian Capitol! Calling it a Temple amounts to the same thing. The call of Samuel occurred in the Temple, the House of God. Samuel’s mother dedicates him to God from birth because of her vow to do so. In her need for a child, she asks the Lord and he gives her a child, Samuel. God calls the little Samuel while sleeping in the Temple. He runs to his human master, Eli. Three consecutive times the voice comes calling and Samuel keeps running to Eli. At the third call, Eli informs Samuel that the caller is God. Eli adds, your response must be “speak Lord your servant is listening!” In the House of God, God speaks to those he finds therein. Each time Samuel leaves the Temple, he distances himself from the Lord and could not hear the Lord. Returning from Eli to the Temple, the lord speaks to Samuel. To his credit, Eli was the mediator pointing out God and his ways to Samuel. Lest we forget, Samuel’s mother is instrumental to bringing him to dwell in the Temple—family upbringing as foundational mediation!  

Lest we forget, Samuel’s mother is instrumental to bringing him to dwell in the Temple — family upbringing as foundational mediation!  

From the Temple made of bricks and stones, where little Samuel hears God calling on him, God takes up a residence in human flesh — “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The new Temple of God is Jesus Christ, according to our gospel. Those who seek God’s Temple go to Jesus Christ—“destroy this Temple,and in three days I will raise it up again” (John2:19). Two of such seekers request John-the-Baptist’s help. He directs them to God’s Temple with the words: “Behold the Lamb of God”. Like Eli, who educates Samuel in God’s ways, John-the-Baptist shows his disciples the way to Jesus Christ. The manner in which Samuel is compliant, so are the two disciples of John-the-Baptism; the two leave John-the-Baptist for Jesus’ company. Jesus asks them: “what do you seek?” Their response is “where do you live?” “Come and see” is Jesus’ answer.

Two disciples seeking to live with Jesus Christ receive a welcoming hospitality from Jesus. Like Samuel, they dwell in the Temple of God, in God’s presence, by being with Jesus. How nice to dwell in God’s presence, that Andrew, one of the two staying with Jesus for a “sleep over”, goes home and brings his brother, Simon, to meet Jesus. In a very short time, in Jesus’ company, Andrew concludes that Jesus is the Messiah, and that is the good news he offers his brother, Simon, “we have found the Messiah”. When Jesus meets Simon, he immediately changes his name to Peter (Cephas). There is so much trust between Simon and his brother Andrew, that Simon accepts to go with him to meet Jesus. The filial and family trust turns into the joy of salvation: what a change takes place when we dwell with the Lord!

The initiation of Samuel in the Temple by his Mother, the accurate directives Samuel receives from Eli concerning God’s ways, the compass of John-the-Baptist leading two disciples to Jesus and the credible and verifiable testimony of Andrew to his brother Simon, these are mediators and mediations transforming lives. This is what is lacking in our world today. There is so much hypocrisy and falsehood. Our fellow citizens of the earth are all victims and casualties of a false world and wrong teachings! The “Fourth Estate” or the media is as liable as any insurrectionists in their complicity. On the contrary, the credibility of Eli finds the compliance of Samuel. The reliability of Andrew’s information brings Simon to Jesus. The presence of Samuel in God’s Temple facilitates communication between him and God. The exemplary life of Jesus testifies to the two disciples that Jesus is the Messiah. The power of the witnessing of Jesus’ companionship nudges Andrew to go bring his brother Simon to Jesus. Simon’s confirmation of the testimony of Andrew to him makes him remain with Jesus. Every mediator must be credible in words and deeds. There isn’t any need for a justice system or the involvement of the army: human transparency and authenticity are self-evident proofs of veracity and verifiability. 

Ours is an age of mediators, not soldiers! Ours is the power of moral rectitude and the challenge of personal example. The legacy of Christianity is our subject matter. Without credible and authentic mediators, pointing out the direction to God, like Eli and John-the-Baptist, every vision dies! This second Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B, 2021, is the call to action, Christian action to defend Christianity by becoming Christ’s mediators. Arm your actions with virtue, raise up your voices in love, and let your eloquence rain down compassion and love on our fellow citizens of the earth and children of God.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price”.

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Let us be guided by the blindness of love, the impartiality of justice, the eradication of divisions and the promotion of unity that flow from the Cross of Jesus Christ and the martyrdom of his prophets. A Christian, like Jesus Christ, kills no one, but willingly dies for love and the defense of the dignity of others. The Christian justice is the power of love that manifests itself in dying so that the other may have a better life. It is the primacy of love and the defense of life in all circumstances that are the hallmarks of Christianity and mediators of God. Capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia, insults and denigration, etc. are travesties of the kinds of virtues that build love and trust.

Our second reading elevates the human person to the status of the Temple of God: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This scenario replicates the true meaning of John-the-Baptist’s title for Jesus — “the Lamb of God”. The final days of Jesus on earth will witness insurrectionists’ assault on Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. The insurrectionists turn Jesus into the criminal and themselves the dispensers of God’s justice against an impostor – that Jesus claims to be the Son of God (John 19:7). The bad news is that, you and I are today’s insurrectionists; it is you and I that destroy the Temple of God, our body, through fornication and adultery: “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body . . . Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:13, 18).

“The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body . . . Flee from sexual immorality” .

(1 Corinthians 6:13, 18)

We forget that external attacks only reveal the malaise of the spirit. The assault on democracy and Christianity have their roots in the distant past, in the forgetfulness of the human soul and the choice to defend structures. An atheistic democracy has soldiers to fall back on to defend its institutions, but lacks an army to restore its soul. The soul is the domain of religion. The demise of the soul translates into the disintegration of institutions and the physical structures that represent them—democracy and church structures. The rehabilitation of Christianity, the palpability of love and equal justice to all, the reining in of social media that breeds amoral insurrectionists, and scaling back on the unchecked power of bullies point the way towards the reanimation of our decaying social soul!

You and I need to ask, how sane and healthy is the Temple of God that we are before condemning the assault on structures. The true Temple of God is the human person. We all move from sin to crime. The metamorphosis from sin to crime is the divorce between soul and body. Our democratic defense of crimes to the utter disregard of sins is the split personality disorder that characterizes our times: only credible and exemplar mediators can point out the right way forward for our age. We need mediators like Samuel’s mother, Eli and John-the-Baptism, not soldiers! The power of your morality is your engagement as a mediator to keep the Temple of God that you are from destruction!

By Fr. Ayodele Ayeni, a Spiritan

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