If we are temples of the living God as St. Paul suggests, who is building our temple? “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Co 3:16)
God creates us in his image and likeness. He offers to dwell in us through his son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. (John 14:23) In Old Testament times God dwelled in a tent and then in a temple, but Jesus declared that a time was coming when true worshipers would worship the Father not in the temple of Jerusalem, but in Spirit and truth. (John 4:21)
In fact, he referred to himself as the temple when he cleared the temple of money changers. “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days,” he said. (John 2:19)
Psalm 127 says, “Unless the Lord builds a house, the builders labor in vain.” So, who is building our temple? Are we seeking the Lord’s help or are we trying to it by ourselves? How is our character and conscience being formed? Is it with the help of the Lord, or are we leaving him out of the process?
Many of us who are Christians had Christian parents who raised us in Christian homes. While this may not be true for everyone, from the time we began to understand, our parents would teach us what was right and wrong. If we were Catholic, they sent us to Catholic schools or saw to it that we received religious education in our parish church. If we were Protestant, they sent us to Sunday school and took us to church on Sundays and saw to it that we were raised in the Christian faith.
My Father was Baptist and my mother, Catholic. My brother and I were raised Baptist, and I remember going to Baptist Sunday school every Sunday throughout my elementary school years. When I was twelve, I became interested in my mother’s Catholic faith, and became Catholic a couple of years later.
As we grow older, whether we continue to grow in our faith becomes our responsibility. While God continues to invite us to grow closer to him, he gives us compete freedom to accept or reject his invitation. He offers us several tools, however, to help us build a temple for his presence.
The first is as simple as conversation with him, which we call prayer. The second tool is his word. The Bible reflects his word in many different forms. If we read his word regularly, we can come to know God better. We can take on the wisdom his word provides. We can learn from the lives of the people of the Bible, the words of the prophets and the psalms. We can learn from the teaching of Jesus and the example of his life.
One of the most important tools God gives us is his church. Through the church he gives us sacraments to experience his grace and presence. Through his church he gives us a community of believers to strengthen our journey.
God makes all these tools available so that we can build a temple for him to dwell in. Many of the cathedrals of the world have taken decades to complete. Our temples take a life time.