The Raising of the Temple

Detail, "Christ Carrying the Cross," El Greco, c. 1577–87, Metropolitan Museum of Art/Open Access.

by Br. Stephen J., MIC

“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” 
 …But he was speaking about the temple of his body. (John 2:19-21)

Behold! The Temple is raised anew
For all to worship with spirit true.
Not as of old, when, with slow feet,
Men brought its pieces along the street,
But new and glorious, its dazzling light
Inspiring our darkened mortal sight.

Column on column, arch on pilaster
Ruin came swift, but life returned faster.
Its treasures, once scattered upon the mount,
Like drops of blood from a sorrowful fount,
Are now restored, though wounds remain,
Reminding us of His mortal pain.

Its walls, once violently torn apart,
Destroyed by the scourges of selfish man’s heart,
Are now re-erected by no human hand
And settled among us in our native land.

Its dome, once pierced and pitted with holes,
Crowned with derision and spikes by rough souls,
Re-finished, and shining through its former scars,
To outlast all ages, all nations, all wars.

On its way through Jerusalem, bowed to the dust,
Its wood, bleeding treasures, atoned for man’s lust.
That wood on the new Temple Mount is now fixed
The dust and the blood with mercy and love mixed.
The beams, never broken, though all out of joint,
Now brace the high ribs of the vault to a point.

They cross the great arches, a mute wooden sign
That mercy in suffering marks One divine.
The nails of this Temple, that hold it no more
At the feet of the stairs and the hands of the door,
Leave portals of grace, opened up to the poor
At its right hand, rejoicing forevermore.

The Holy of Holies was pierced by a lance,
Man’s pride and his plunder, greed’s hideous dance,
All sin and all shame did drive home the cold spear,
Man’s malice and hate, his distrust and false fear,
But forth as on mission streamed water and blood,
To grant its priests vision, to give its sons food,
To heal and correct men with merciful love,
To guide and direct them with grace from above.

The foundation alone remained in the ground,
But in this stone crypt could no body be found.
That cornerstone outside the city was cast;
Now on this foundation, all time it will last.

The bell that called all to rejoice and repent
Was thrown down, all mute, in the silence of Lent;
The tongue that had sung then cleaved to its jaws
In the refuse and dust of God’s disobeyed laws.
Now raised up, re-mounted in that mighty tower,
Its quietest tone tells out God’s awesome power.

To all those who fear life or honor to lose,
It peals, repels fear, and tells forth the Good News.
The New Temple calls other temples around;
A city they form and a kingdom they found.

The call is still spreading, and always the same:
“Go, baptize all nations in God’s Triune Name.”

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? …
For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are. - 1 Cor. 2:16-17

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