Word Magazine September 1978 Page 17
Homily by Father James C. Meena
A few years ago, one of our modern buildings was not being built in accordance with proper specifications so one of the floors collapsed. That incident filled the newspapers around here for days. How fortunate it was that this happened before the structure was completed.
There are certain codes and specifications that are legislated which must be followed. Plans must be approved. Engineers must check plans and blue prints. During the course of construction, inspectors must check the job. These statutes are established for the protection and the welfare of the community. We don’t want less than a certain number of feet between houses or buildings to be too high or eyesores and certainly we don’t want them built so that they become a danger to those who occupy them.
St. Paul speaks of methods of building, but not about a physical building constructed by hands. (I Corinthians 5:9-17) He is talking about us, our life and how this “temple of the Holy Spirit, must be built on a firm and godly foundation, withstanding every test of fire, storm and earthquake . . .
“For the foundation nobody can lay any other than the one which has already been laid, that is Jesus Christ” . . . Not Bahai . . . not Krishna . . . Not the exotic eastern religions . . . Not philosophy . . . Not Yoga . . . Only on Jesus Christ can this temple be built! Without Hun your building is set on shifting sand. St. Paul goes on to say, “On this foundation, you can build in gold, silver and jewels, or in wood, grass and straw, but whatever the material the work of each builder is going to be clearly revealed when the day comes. That day will begin with fire”. Just as every combustible thing in an earthly Church building can be eaten up by fire so will all in our life’s temple which is sinful be consumed by the fire of the Holy Spirit.
What are the gold, the silver and the jewels, the materials St. Paul describes but the use we make of the gifts which God gives to us. If God gives us gold and we build with straw, then we have cheated God. If He gives us jewels and we build with sand then we have defrauded God. God gives us precious talents. If we do not use them to His glory, to witness to His Holy Name, then we have built our spiritual building in violation of His “Code and Specifications”.
There are some of us to whom He gives only wood or straw. The wood we cure by prayer and piety. We age it and clean it with loyalty. We shape it as straight as we can and bolt it together with pegs of integrity and we make it as strong a temple as we know how. His gift of straw mix with the mud of humility. We mold the mixture into blocks which we set in God’s sunlight to dry. Then we put them into a fire of faith to bake into strong bricks for our building.
The straw is the talent that God has given to us. But the mud and baking of the bricks are the utilization of our own initiative. That initiative is in the exercise of our choice of a life of prayer, holiness and of good works, the visitation of the sick and comforting of the bereaved, the feeding of the poor, the support of the weak and ministering to prisoners.
These are the gifts and these are the ministries and it’s all clearly revealed to us in Scripture. “And in that last day”, warns St. Paul, that day which will begin with the fire that will test the quality of each man’s work, “if his structure stands up to it he will get his wages. But if it is burned down he will be the loser. And though he is saved himself it will be as one who has gone through the fire.”
My beloved, God is gentle and loving, and we are surely saved by grace. “Not of anything that we should do lest any should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-10) And yet Paul makes it clear that there are some requirements for salvation that are dependent upon us. If we do not fulfill them and are still to be saved, it will only be after having gone through some spiritual form of fire, of being purged of that false building that we raised in violation of the “Specs” that God laid down for us.
We are moving toward eternity, rapidly to the time when we will be required to show that we have become what He commands . . . builders of the temple of the Holy Spirit, “because the Temple of God is sacred and You are that temple”.