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All of us have seen pictures of churches in ruins, destroyed by natural calamities, but worse, by wars and other acts of aggression. We have seen how churches were destroyed during the Second World War, and more recently in the conflict in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. That is one sad symbol of war, of conflicts between races and nations, the destruction of churches.

In the first reading, the temple is destroyed by the pagans, called Gentiles who do not belong to the chosen people. They are church outsiders, temple outsiders. And led by King Antiochus, they destroy the temple.

The Gospel speaks of another destruction. It is a more painful kind of destruction than the one that occurs in the first reading.

In the Gospel, Jesus speaks of the destruction of the temple by insiders. When outsiders destroy the temple, that is understandable. When insiders destroy their own temple, that is incredible.

Let those who want to destroy the church continue what they want to do. Maybe it is beyond us to change their mind. We pray for them, as they prayed for the destroyers of the temple.

But let no one among us ever attempt to destroy our own temple.

Maybe we will not destroy it with hammers, cranes, and bombs.

But we can also destroy God’s temple when we come to the temple with soiled hearts. We bring the temple to ruins when we come and offer our bread and wine at the altar, and yet are suspicious of one another. We destroy it when we offer the sign of peace and yet do not mean it, and when we think coming to God’s temple will bless us and will make God owe us something because of a donation we have made. Through all these acts, we destroy God’s temple.

Let our sacrifice be pleasing. Let outsiders destroy the churches if they wish to destroy it. But let none of us ever do so, no matter how unaware we may be.

Let us recognize and admit that we contribute to the destruction of God’s temple when we reinforce and repeat gossip, when we foment intrigues, and when we nurture resentment in our hearts. We destroy God’s temple when we keep quiet when we should proclaim the truth and defend the Church. Let our celebration of the Eucharist today be also our act of reparation.

1Mc 1:36-37; 52-59; Mt 12:46-50
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