“Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” This is how this Sunday’s gospel (John 2: 13-25) begins.On special days and feasts, what church or place of worship do you seek out? What is this space like in which you praise and celebrate God?
I am reminded of my own parish church in Germany, St. Nikomedes. We lived in about 10 minutes walking distance from it. This is the church of my upbringing and also of some deep experiences with God. It was here that I received the sacraments. My faith was nurtured here. Many a time, I would stop by the church and just sit, enjoying the spaciousness of it and being overwhelmed by a sense of sacredness, peacefulness and utter safety. The silence in the church invited me to a contemplative way of praying. St. Nikomedes is also the place of my vocation.
I remember especially one Saturday afternoon when I was about 16 years old. Sitting in the church, I read over a prayer by Roger Schütz, the founder of Taizé:
“You kept on saying: Live the little bit of the gospel you have grasped. Proclaim my life. Light fire on the earth . . . You, follow me.…Until one day I understood: you were asking me to commit myself to the point of no return.”
The connection to a sacred place can always stay with us. Our hearts resonate with the revelation of God’s presence and our memories of sacred moments.
Considering this, can you imagine what it must have been like for Jesus walking up to his place of worship and finding all this trading going on? Business being done in the temple area? The temple in Jerusalem was the destination and primary place of worship for Jews at Jesus’ time.
John reports, “His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me.”
On our Lenten journey, may we show our zeal for our places of worship. May Lent be the sacred time during which we spend a little more time in the sacred spaces that connect us with the presence of God.
Andrea Westkamp, OSB
St. Benedict Monastery,