‘When some were talking about the Temple, remarking how it was adorned with fine stonework and votive offerings, Jesus said, ‘All these things you are staring at now – the time will come when not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.’
The destruction of buildings, particularly homes and businesses from extreme weather brought about by floods and bushfires, have dominated our headlines recently. Damage to property can shake us when we consider their significance. Our house is also our home, a place that provides security for our family as well as many precious memories of family life.
Businesses too, although not the same as someone’s home, are significant in their own way in terms of people’s livelihoods, business aspirations and how they contribute to their local community. Even with insurance, there are things which cannot be replaced. Some people do recover but for others the loss may be just too great. When the Cathedral of Notre Dame was ravaged by fire some years ago, I can remember the sadness shared by many around me. I can only imagine the countless more who have a spiritual attachment to this incredible building which was opened in the 14th century.
Buildings also feature in the Scriptures. The Temple of Jerusalem was the centre of worship and religious life for the Jewish people until it was destroyed in 70 A.D. One can only imagine what it was like for them, the symbol of their faith in God is now overtaken by foreign forces! What a blow that would have been to one’s faith and hope!
Closer to home, as a church, we are navigating through significant changes of our time on how we gather and worship as a Christian community. Understandably, the attachment we have with church buildings is because they hold historical, spiritual, and personal significance. As we were reminded by the gospel during the week on the Feast of the Lateran Basilica, the true Temple of God exists in the person of Christ who overcame the bodily destruction and in turn giving hope to all. Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up John 2:13-22. The church that Jesus established through his death and resurrection includes each one of us as members, living stones, tasked with building the spiritual as well as the physical community around us. Changes to physical buildings and structures should not deter us, rather help us focus on the new Temple, alive and active in the person of Christ.
By Fr Hoang Dinh