The Jerusalem Temple

This weekend’s gospel, Jesus speaks of the Jerusalem temple. A person must understand the layout of the temple in order to see what was happening in this event. The temple sat on the top of Mt. Zion, and it is thought to have covered about thirty acres of land. The temple consisted of two parts, the temple building itself and the temple precincts or courtyards. The Greek language has two different words to distinguish which is meant.

1. The temple building (naos) was a small ornate structure which sat in the center of the temple property. It was called the Holy Place or Holy of Holies. Only the High Priest could enter its walls, and he could enter only once during the year, on the Day of Atonement.

2. The temple precincts (hieron) were four courtyards that surrounded the temple building, each decreasing in their importance to the Jewish mind. It is important to know that great walls separated the courts from each other.

A. First, there was the Court of the Priests. Only the priests were allowed to enter this court. Within this courtyard stood the great furnishings, of worship; the Altar of Burnt Offering, the Bronze Wash Basin, the Seven Branched Lampstand, the Altar of Incense, and the Table of Showbread.

B. Second, there was the Court of the Israelites. This was a huge courtyard where Jewish worshippers met together for join services on the great feast days. It was also where worshippers handed over their sacrifices to the priests.

C. Third, there was the Court of the Women. Women were usually limited to this area except for joint worship with men. They could, however, enter the Court of the Israelites when they came to make a sacrifice or worship in a joint assembly on a great feast day.

D. Last, there was the Court of the Gentiles. It covered a vast space, surrounding all the other courtyards, and was the place of worship for all Gentile converts to Judaism.

Two facts need to be noted about the Court of the Gentiles.

    It was the courtyard farthest removed from the center of worship, the Most Holy place, which represented God’s very presence. A high wall separated the Court of the Gentiles from the other courts, disallowing any Gentile a closer approach into God’s presence. In fact, there were tablets hanging all around the wall threatening death to any Gentile who went beyond their own courtyard or center of worship.

     The Court of the Gentiles was the most corrupt. That prompted Jesus to say, ‘I will destroy this old temple’, I will destroy this temple which has become corrupt. Become a place of sin, a ‘den of thieves.’ And I will replace it with a new one. What   he’s talking about is  the temple of his own body.  What Jesus is saying, “I am God’s dwelling place among you, am the new Temple, my body is now the sacred dwelling place of God.He is declaring and creating this new temple of his body, the temple of the Church.


Fr. Henry Rebello 

Stewardship Thoughts

Today, the theme of water connects our Scripture passages from Exodus and the Gospel from St. John the Evangelist. The ancient Israelites grumble at Moses for bringing them and their livestock into the desert wilderness to die of thirst. God answers Moses’ cry by miraculously producing life-giving water from the rock, symbolic of the sacrament of Baptism. In the Gospel, at Jacob’s well, Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman. He tells her about the “living water” He can give for eternal life, which is not the same water found in the well. Jesus admonishes her: If you knew the gift of God. The Samaritan woman undergoes a conversion experience in which she brings others to Christ. St. Paul, in his Letter to the Roman community, reminds us of God’s outpouring love for us, even though we are sinners. Jesus’ gift of eternal life is for Jew and Gentile alike, for all faithful stewards who strive for holiness by following His teachings to deepen their love for Him. During Lent, pray the Stations of the Cross to draw closer to our Lord and Savior.


RCIA—Rite of Election

This past Saturday, the Candidates from St. Valentine and their Sponsors took part in the Rite of Election at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament which was presided over by Bishop Donald Hanchon.

 Best Lenten Practices

· The entire season of Lent is a penitential season.

The liturgical color for Lent is purple (just like Advent) to show that it is a special time of penance. Taking up additional practices, such as self-imposed fasting outside of the obligatory times, Lenten devotions and spiritual reading, Stations of the Dross, a daily rosary, serving the poor, etc. all enhance the penitential and spiritual aspect of Lent.

· Make the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession)

an important part of your Lenten penitential practice. Many parishes have special times of confession during Lent. One traditional devotion towards this sacrament is to make a general confession of your whole life using an examination of conscience.

· Attend Mass on Ash Wednesday. While it is not a Holy Day of Obligation, all are encouraged to attend to receive ashes on the forehead.

· Attend Mass on Holy Thursday to commemorate the institution of the Eucharist, called the “Mass of the Lord’s Supper.”

· At 3 o’clock on Good Friday, pause and make a special effort to keep this hour sacred. This is the our of Christ’s death on the cross, after which redemption for mankind was completed. Praying the Divine Mercy chaplet is ideal at this time (it just takes five minutes.)

· If possible, try to clear your schedule in order to participate in the traditional Veneration of the Cross service on Good Friday.

· Continue your Good Friday fast up to the start of the Easter Vigil to correspond to the entire time from Christ’s death on the cross until his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

· Attend the Easter Vigil at sundown on Holy Saturday to welcome the Easter Sunday feast. Pray for those being received into full communion with the Catholic Church at this Mass, that they will remain faithful to Christ and his Church, grow in holiness, and become saints.

· On Easter Sunday and through out the Easter season, fully celebrate the joy of Christ’s Resurrection and the conquering of sin and death he merited for us. Greet one another with the Paschal Greeting/Easter Acclamation, “Christ is risen! And the response,  “He is risen indeed!”