He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there.He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, "Take these out of here, and stop making my Father's house a marketplace."
"Is anything sacred?" I ask my group of Veterans in the VA substance abuse program. To kick-start the discussion, I usually have to offer a dozen words associated with sacred: holy, reverent, pious, piety, saintly, Godly, fear of the Lord, devotion, zeal, esteem, honor, blessed, venerable and so forth.
Many are children and grandchildren of alcoholics; of the sacred they learned only that alcohol was not to be wasted. To watch a grown man cry, dump his fifth of Johnny Walker down the toilet!
In the military they learned reverence for the flag, officers and guns. Even after years of chemical abuse they still honor Old Glory.
If the discussion follows my plan we progress from "What is sacred to the Veteran?" to "What is sacred to the person in recovery?" Those with long experience of Alcoholics Anonymous can speak of sobriety, honesty and confidentiality -- "What you hear here, stays here!" The Program also encourages punctuality, courtesy and clean speech. Old timers will speak respectfully even of women, gays and members of minority races and religions.
Learning reverence is like learning to taste or smell something very subtle. Some teas seem to have no taste at first; some ointments have no smell until you've used them a while. I used to take communion on First Friday to homebound parishioners. One day, returning to my own rectory, I detected a now-familiar odor and said, "Rats!" I had not noticed it before but had learned it in the old homes I visited.
Learning reverence is like that. It doesn't come naturally but we can develop a sense of what is sacred.
The Psalmist invites us "Come, children, I will teach you the fear of the Lord." He begins by teaching us not about massive buildings or waving flags but our behavior in company,
"Keep your tongue from evil, your lips from speaking lies, Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it."On this feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran -- an enormous basilica in Rome -- we celebrate a building most of us will never see, and we thank God for the holy sites we visit each Sunday. As we honor the buildings and the people who frequent them we learn a comportment that will serve us well in the Heavenly Hall of God.