Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Can a city really be holy?

Read Revelation 21:10-23 

"The Holy City." This is what Jerusalem had been called for a long time. Located on a small hill, it was almost impregnable. King David had managed to conquer it and decided to make it his residence and the capital of Israel. He moved the Ark of the Covenant there, with the stones on which were inscribed the Ten Commandments. He vowed to build a Temple to house the Ark, but it was his son Solomon who would successfully complete the vow, 968 years before the birth of Jesus Christ.

Four hundred years later, the Babylonians set siege to the Holy City. Their victory was marked by the destruction of the Temple. During the years of exile that followed this sad event, the prophet Ezekiel imagined the reconstruction of Jerusalem. In a dream he describes in his book, Ezekiel saw the glory of God come to down as a luminous cloud to dwell in a new Temple.

In fact, Jerusalem would be rebuilt in the following centuries, as well as the so-called Second Temple. Even at the time of Jesus, authorities continued to embellish it and to decorate it. Any good Jew had to go there three times a year for a pilgrimage. But Jesus foresaw its destruction. In fact, in the year 70 AD, a Roman soldier set fire to it. The Second Temple was destroyed, never to be rebuilt.

John, writing after the event, dreamed as Ezekiel did of a renewed Jerusalem. His dream incorporated several elements of the ancient prophet's vision, with this essential difference: in the New Jerusalem, there would be no Temple. Saint John explains: "In the city, I did not see any Temple, for its Temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. "
Indeed, in the power of the Spirit, God inhabits the hearts of men and women who turn to him. The house of God is not made of stone. It is made of human lives that trust in him. 
For us Christians, a church is not the house of God. It is rather the home of the People of God, a place of meeting, of praise and prayer. We must always remember that the true house of God is each one of God's children. Let us allow this divine presence to shine forth in each of us. Every city can be a Holy City, as long as the people do not forget this loving, mysterious presence in their hearts.

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