This Sunday is special. While it should be the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the period after Christmas, instead of the usual readings on that Sunday, we pray over the readings of a special feast.

It is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple – St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary offering the Infant Jesus to God in accordance with the law about the first-born male.

               So in fact, it is another Christmas theme outside of the Christmas season

               We just can’t move away from the spirit of God-made-man for love of us.

I wish again to focus heavily on the message of the first reading from Malachi 3. This book is the last Old Testament book in the Protestant Bible, one of the last books in our Catholic Bible (because we still have 1 and 2 Maccabees).

Malachi prophesies about the Temple of the Lord.

               We always hear about the Temple

               We know how the Temple was the symbol of God’s presence among his people in Jerusalem and all Israel

               The Temple, for the Jews, was the seat of God the King

The Israelites were so blessed to have this great building in their midst

               Shining with glory

               Full of power

               Source of strength and stability

And yet, the Israelites took for granted the meaning of the Temple.

               They did not love God sincerely.

               They still ached for other gods to pin their hopes on.

               Their faith in the God of the Temple became superficial.

               The Temple became merely a false security of the nation.

In Ezekiel 11:23, a moving account is mentioned.

               The glory of the Lord, which always filled the Temple, lifted up from it and from the city.

               It then moved away and went to another mountain away from the building and location the people cherished.

               From that time on, no record showed that the shimmering, luminous glory of the Lord appeared again in Israel.

Until of course, the Lord Jesus came into the picture. At his birth, the shepherds saw his glory in the heavens, the Magi were guided by a bright light to the manger. God returned again to dwell among his people – through his Only Begotten Son, Jesus the Christ.

The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple is the subtle, humble and unnoticed return of God in the midst of the people he loved.

Yet he came as a baby and nobody noticed him.

He came poor and so he was not treated with the proper respect.

He came small and weak like the people he came to serve, to love and to embrace.

Later in his preaching, Jesus will speak of the Temple again.

No longer the building… but his own Body as the Temple, which will rise up again in three days.

And because we are his Body, we are his living Temple now in the world.

St. Paul extends this message by saying that each person’s body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit!

How many people want to go to Israel and to visit the site of the Temple in Jerusalem.

But what they see there is only the ruins of the old and destroyed temple (in fact, on top of it is a mosque actively used by Muslims).

The Spirit of the Lord is no longer in a physical place.

The Spirit is in the Church that loves, welcomes, serves, and forgives.

The Spirit is in a human heart that longs to follow God’s will in little things each day.

Remember, you are his Temple now.

Let his glory shine through you – in your smile, in your kindness, in your helpfulness to others, in your patience, in your silent but meaningful presence as follower of Christ wherever you are today!