Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Most Precious Temple

Last night was the final concert in the park in downtown Plymouth, Michigan.  Summer is over.  Around 5,000 showed up for the free concert; they danced the twist, did a conga line and danced to lots of other oldie classics, too.  There were plenty of kids and babies and dogs of all sorts present.  A bearded Abe Lincoln was there in his fancy suit and top hat, signing autographs.  When asked if he’d consider running again he said: “I’m not sure that’d be necessary; you know I still have 3 years left on my term of office.”  Later in the program (after everyone was getting a little tired, I think), the bandleader looked down from the stage at Abe and said: “You know Lincoln was Jewish, don’t you?”  He paused and smiled:  “Yep.  He was shot in the temple.”  Lots of groans followed, but still, a good time was had by all.  Small town America, it’s a wonderful place, and Plymouth with its free concerts, free parking and lots of caring people, is a great place to live.  We are so blessed.
As I drove to breakfast this morning, the hour hit 6AM.  I was listening to Fox Radio and I was somewhat --- no, VERY --- surprised to hear the National Anthem being played.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I stayed in the car to listen to the music to its completion, and I wondered how many children today would even recognize the melody, which once was played on every radio station and every television station at the start of the day.  Just this week I read how a public school teacher scolded a child for saying “God bless you” when his schoolmate sneezed.  Yes, we are very blessed in this country, but, I fear, realizing it less and less.
The reason for this post, however, is not last night’s concert nor the state of our culture, but this morning’s readings.  The Second Reading in the Liturgy of the Hours was from a homily on Matthew by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop.  I thought it worth noting here, so I would not forget how well he states the reasoning for the Second Great Commandment, to love our neighbor (even the one who sneezes).  Here are excerpts of his words:
“Do you want to honor Christ’s body?  Then do not scorn him in his nakedness, nor honor him here in the church with silken garments while neglecting him outside where he is cold and naked.  For he who said:  This is my body, and made it so by his words, also said: You saw me hungry and did not feed me, and inasmuch as you did not do it for one of these, the least of my brothers, you did not do it for me.  What we do here in the church requires a pure heart, not special garments; what we do outside requires great dedication.
Let us learn, therefore, to be men of wisdom and to honor Christ as he desires. … God does not want golden vessels but golden hearts.  Now, in saying this I am not forbidding you to make such gifts; I am only demanding that along with such gifts and before them, you give alms, … for he is much more pleased with the latter.
Of what use is it to weigh down Christ’s table with golden cups, when he himself is dying of hunger?  … No one has ever been accused for not providing ornaments, but for those who neglect their neighbor a hell awaits.  Do not, therefore, adorn the church and ignore your afflicted brother, for he is the most precious temple of all.

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