Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

“I do will it.  Be made clean.”

When I was in seminary, I did my hospital chaplaincy in my fourth summer at Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove.  Every once in a while I would come to a room that was marked with a prominent sign stating that the room was quarantined and outlining a whole list of restrictions to any visitor who would enter.  Those restrictions usually required a mask and sterile gloves, and often a sterile gown as well.  The problem with all that is that it’s a real obstacle to any kind of effective ministry to the sick.  So we were taught to ask at the nurse’s station whether the protection was for the patient’s benefit or for ours.  If it was for the patient’s benefit, we would of course wear everything that was required; but if it was for our benefit we would have to assess how risky the situation was.  Often it wasn’t a problem for the brief time we would be visiting, and we would do without some of the protection.

Jesus today finds himself in much the same ministry situation.  A leper comes to him and kneels before him.  If we have been listening to the first reading today, we know that that kind of behavior was forbidden.  They didn’t have masks and gloves and gowns in those days, so the prescribed behavior was that the leper was to live apart from the community to avoid infecting anyone else.  But the leper doesn’t do that.  Instead, he comes to Jesus, and kneels at his feet, stating the obvious: “If you wish, you can make me clean.”  And of course Jesus agrees with those wonderful words: “I do will it.  Be made clean.”  But what’s worth noting here is that Jesus too ignores all those prescriptions in our first reading, and actually touches the leper, something that would have been completely unheard of.  Jesus too recognized that all those quarantine warnings were a real obstacle to any kind of effective ministry to the sick.

The issue is touch.  The Church realizes that God acts through the healing touch of doctors, care givers, family and ministers in the life of those who are hurting.  Every sacrament has what is called an “imposition of hands,” recognizing that the Holy Spirit makes the sacrament happen as the minister imposes hands in prayer.  That’s the whole reason for all those hand pictures in room 162.  In the rite of the Anointing of the Sick in particular, hands are imposed on the sick person’s head.  If there are family members or friends present, I usually invite them to impose hands too.  And then the priest imposes his hands by anointing the person with oil on their forehead and their hands.  All of this comes from the example of Jesus who actually touched those who were sick and raised them up.  There is healing in the power of touch.

But there is difficulty with touch, too, isn’t there?  Sometimes touch is misused, and sometimes touch is unwelcome.  There may be good reasons for those feelings, and we need to respect them.  Even the Church’s own Liturgy allows for adaptations of the imposition of hands in various circumstances.  For example, I almost never actually touch a penitent’s head in confession because there’s just two of us there, and I don’t want anything to even appear improper.  But still I have to recognize that the lack of touch is a real obstacle to effective ministry to those in need.  Because touch used in a healthy, prayerful and ministerial way is a sign of the presence of Jesus, in whose place I am standing, and an invocation of the Holy Spirit.  The Church simply recognizes that what our experience teaches us: in general, touch heals, touch empowers and touch guides.

If we’re having problems with touch and there doesn’t seem to be a good reason for it, maybe we have to look deeper.  Certainly if we have been abused or mistreated in some way, a reticence to be touched is understandable, but still is something we need to have healed.  But if we can’t bear to enter a hospital to visit a sick relative, let alone touch them, then we may have to look into ourselves and deal with our fear of sickness or death.  If we find it difficult to forgive others let alone embrace them in reconciliation, then we may have to look into ourselves and deal with the unconfessed sin in our own lives that keeps us from any kind of reconciliation.  If we cannot bear to put a quarter in the box being held out to us by a homeless person on the street, then we may have to look into our lives and deal with our own poverty; deal with what we ourselves lack in some spiritual sense.  Human nature longs for touch from the womb – mothers know this – and so if we now have difficulty being touched, whether that touch is an actual touch or a spiritual one, then there is something off, something wrong, some fear or sin that needs to be dealt with, some emptiness that needs to be filled up, and we’ll never be holy, never be whole until we do it.

We ourselves may have come to this Eucharist today in need of touch, in need of being made whole.  In the quiet moments of today’s Liturgy, it would be good for us to look into our hearts and identify what kind of touch we need, or what it is we need to deal with so that we can receive that touch in the Spirit in which it is offered.  That’s where we need to start, because we disciples are called to touch our world.  We will never be able to do that if we have not accepted Christ’s healing touch in our lives.  Only when we have can we go out and visit the sick, holding their hands and praying with them for God’s healing and mercy.  Only then can we embrace those who have wronged us and be reconciled with them.  Only then can we enter the homes of the poor, as our St. Vincent dePaul Society will be doing, and give them the hand up that they need.  Only then can we reach out to someone who is hurting, as our Stephen Ministry will be doing, and guide them back to grace.  Only then can we take the hand of a child and teach them about God’s love.

The world yearns for healing, yearns for the touch of Christ.  And Jesus will not leave things according to the Levitical Law of our first reading.  Jesus instead opts to break the rules and reach out to all of us needy ones, touching our lives with grace.  And he wants us to do that too.  He wants us to be fountains of his love and grace, healing the sick, releasing those imprisoned by whatever holds them back, and kissing the leper clean.  To all of us broken ones, he says loud and clear today, embracing us as he always does, “I do will it.  Be made clean!  I do will it.  Be made clean!  I do will it.  Be made clean!”

We usually take some quiet time after the homily.  But today, I would like to invite us all to respond to the Word of God in a different way.  Please stand with me now, take out the half sheets with “The Summons” on it, and sing together verses 1, 3 and 5.

The Summons

John L. Bell, Tune: KELVINGROVE 7 6 7 6 777 6

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown, will you let my name be known,
Will you let my life be shown in you and you in me?

Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?
Will you set the pris’ners free and never be the same?
Will you kiss the leper clean, and do such as this unseen,
And admit to what I mean in you and you in me?

Lord, your summons echoes true when you but call my name.
Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.
In your company I’ll go, where your love and footsteps show.
Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.

St. John Bosco

Today’s readings

St. John Bosco was a master catechist who knew the importance of living and teaching and handing on the faith that the author of our first reading talked about.  “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for,” the author writes, “and evidence of things not seen.”  John Bosco was a man who lived his faith with conviction.  He was a priest who was concerned with the whole person of the young people he taught: he wanted them to fill both their minds and their souls.

John was encouraged to enter the priesthood for the specific purpose of teaching young boys and forming them in the faith. He was ordained in 1841. This began with a poor orphan, who John prepared for First Holy Communion. Then he was able to gather a small community and teach them the Catechism. He worked for a time as a chaplain of a hospice for working girls, and later opened an oratory – a kind of school – for boys which had over 150 students. The needs of teaching them also encouraged John to open a publishing house to print the catechetical and educational materials used in the classrooms.

He was known for his preaching, and that helped him to extend his ministry by forming a religious community – the Salesians – to concentrate on education and mission work in 1859. He later formed a group of Salesian Sisters to teach girls. By teaching children self worth through education and job training, John was able to also teach the children of their own worth in the eyes of God.

Jesus asks the disciples in today’s Gospel, “Do you not yet have faith?”  It is up to all of us to help people come to faith in Jesus.  St. John Bosco was tireless in his devotion to teaching and forming young people. In today’s Eucharist, may we give thanks for the teachers in our lives, and may we also commend the teachers and catechists of today’s young people to the patronage of St. John Bosco.

Thursday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

“For he who made the promise is trustworthy.”

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if these are the only words we take from this holy place today, we’re doing pretty well.  The essence of our faith is based on this rock-solid statement from the writer of Hebrews: “For he who made the promise is trustworthy.”  That’s true, of course, and I think we can all agree with it on the intellectual level.  But people of faith have to go deeper than that; we have to be people whose living is wrapped up in the truth of that statement: “For he who made the promise is trustworthy.”

If we really believe that, then nothing should ever stop our witness.  We should not be stopped because we think we don’t have the words, or the talents to be a witness for the faith.  That doesn’t stop us because God has promised to give us the words and whatever else we need in those moments, and he is trustworthy.  We should not be stopped because we are afraid of commitment, because God has promised us a life that is better than anything we can imagine if we but take up our cross and follow him.  And he is trustworthy.  None of our objections or insecurities should stop our discipleship, our living for Christ, because God has promised to great things in us.  And he is trustworthy.

And so we place our lamps on the lampstand, unafraid of the watching world looking to us, because we’re not shining our own light but rather Christ’s.  We encourage each other in faith and good works because we have the promise of our trustworthy God to take us wherever we need to go.

Thursday after Epiphany

Today’s readings

The feast of Epiphany is a celebration of the fact that Christian life looks like something.  Because Jesus has appeared on the earth and taken our own human form, because he has walked among us and lived our life and died our death, we know what the Christian Way looks like.  We know that the Christian life consists of embracing our humanity, with all its weaknesses and imperfections.  We know that it consists of living our own lives well, mindful of the needs of others, forgiving as we have been forgiving, and spreading the light of the Gospel wherever it is that God puts us.  The Galileans in the synagogue in today’s Gospel were amazed at Jesus’ speaking words of grace.  We too are called to do this so that all will speak highly of us and recognize in us the presence of Christ.

Because Christ is still manifest among us.  Every encounter with someone else is an opportunity for Epiphany.  It is an opportunity for us to look for the presence of Christ in that other person, and for them to see Christ at work in us.  How we do that depends on the situation, certainly, but it must always be our top priority if we are eager to be called Christians.  John’s words in the first reading are clear, and are words of indictment on those times we forget to be the Epiphany to others: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

Christ is made manifest in all of us and among all of us.  In the ordinariness of our lives, we can find Christ’s grace abundantly blessing us, or we can reject it.  If we make it our priority to be Christ’s presence in the world in every encounter with a brother or sister, we may find that we are blessed with epiphany upon epiphany, constantly growing in God’s grace.  This is all part of our faith, of course, and it is this faith, as John tells us, that conquers the world.

Mary, the Mother of God

Today’s readings

bluemarMy mother has a lot of stories about me as I was growing up.  Some of them are funny or interesting, others are just a little painful or embarrassing.  I suspect your mother has or had stories like that about you too.  My mother tells the story about me as a toddler.  I don’t remember the story, obviously, but she thinks it’s pretty funny.  Now, anyway.  Apparently at that time, my parents had a habit of sneaking out of Mass after Communion.  I know nobody here would do such a thing, but they did.  So one day, if you can imagine this even possibly happening, I was making kind of a fuss – no way, right?  My dad picked me up to go to the back of church.  As we were headed to the back, I said in kind of a loud voice at a rather inopportune pause in the priest’s homily, “Are we going to get coffee cake and donuts now?”  As impossible as this story is to believe about me, this is the story that my mother kept and reflected on in her heart!

But Luke tells us of all the amazing things that were observed and said about Jesus, even in his infancy, and all these things are what Mary kept and reflected on in her heart.  I think it’s fair to say that she probably didn’t understand all of them at the time, or at least she didn’t know where they were leading, although she certainly knew that her son was someone very special, the Son of God.  And so she keeps all these things and reflects on them in her heart.  She is the first, really, to receive the Gospel – observing it, as it were, as it was happening and unfolding.  And so she is the model for all of us hearers of the Word; we too catch little phrases or episodes that we later reflect on in our hearts.  When we first hear them, it might well be that we don’t understand them.  But we know that we can later reflect on them in our hearts, and the Holy Spirit will reveal their meaning.  Mary is the model for all of us hearers and lovers of the Word of God.

The Church gives us this wonderful feast of Mary on this, the octave day of Christmas.  In a very real way, the Church still celebrates this day as Christmas day – that’s one of the wonderful things about being Catholic.  We don’t have to cast off Christmas with the wrapping paper; we get to celebrate for many days.  But to celebrate the eighth day of Christmas as the feast of Mary, the Mother of God is a wonderful and appropriate thing to do.  We all know that if Mary hadn’t said “yes” to God’s invitation and cooperated with his plan for her, that salvation history might have gone rather poorly, to say the least.  We are indebted to Mary’s faith, a faith which made possible the salvation of the whole world and everyone ever to live in it.

More than that, Mary’s faith is a model for us.  We often do not know where God is leading us, but in faith we are called to say “yes” anyway.  We are often called upon to take a leap of faith, make a fiat, and cooperate with God’s saving plan for us and others.  Just like Mary, we have no way of knowing where that might lead us; just like Mary, that might lead to heartache and sorrow; but just like Mary, it may lead to redemption beyond belief, beyond anything we can imagine.

And so, yes, Mary is the Mother of God.  And let me tell you, this was a doctrine that didn’t come without its own price.  People fought over whether a human woman could ever be the mother of God.  How would that be possible?  But the alternative, really, would be to say that Jesus was not God, because we clearly know that Mary was his mother.  So to say that Mary was not the Mother of God is to say in a very real and precarious way that Jesus was not God, and we know just as surely that that would be incorrect.  Jesus was fully human but also fully divine, his human and divine natures intertwined in his person without any separation or division or degradation of one nature at the expense of another.  And so, as theologians teach us, Mary is the Mother of God the Word according to his human nature.

But Mary is also the Mother of the Church, leading its members to her son Jesus and to faith in God.  She is mother of priests, caring for us in a special way and interceding for the faithful completion of our mission.  She is the mother of mothers, interceding for them and showing them how to nurture faith in their children.  She is the mother of the faithful, showing us how to cooperate fully with God’s plan.  She is mother of scripture scholars and those who just love the scriptures, having seen the Word unfold before her and treasuring it in her heart.  She is the mother of disciples, having been the first of the disciples and the most dedicated of them all.  She is the Mother of God, and our mother, and we cannot sing our Christmas carols without singing her praises too.  We honor her faith and example today, and we ask for her intercession for our lives, our families, our Church and our world.

Pray for us, o holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Saturday of the Thirty-second Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

You know, this Gospel reading is filled with all sorts of off-putting comments, isn’t it?  I don’t know about you, but I bristle at the thought of comparing God to a dishonest judge!  But that’s not the point here.  Of course, Jesus means that God is so much greater than the dishonest judge, that if the dishonest judge will finally relent to someone pestering him, how much more will God, who love us beyond anything we can imagine, how much more will he grant the needs of this children who come to him in faith?

But people have trouble with this very issue all the time.  Because I am sure that almost all of us have been in the situation where we have prayed and prayed and prayed and nothing seems to happen.  But we can never know the reason for God’s delay.  Maybe what we ask isn’t right for us right now.  Maybe something better is going to come our way at some time.  Maybe the right answer will position itself in time, through the grace of God at work in so many situations.  Maybe we just don’t have the big picture.

But whatever the reason, the last line of the Gospel today is our key: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”  Our faith is what leads us to continue the prayer until it is finally answered.  Maybe the situation will come to a peaceful resolution, or maybe it is we who will be changed.  But if we approach it all in faith, then we know we have to approach it all with the long haul in mind, because our faith tells us that God answers in God’s time and in God’s way.

A delay could either bring us closer to God as we continue to pray in faith, or it can fracture our relationship with God when we give in to despair.  But let that not be so for us.  When the Son of Man comes, may he find us faithful ones busy in prayer.

The Dedication of Saint John Lateran

Today’s readings

I’m often amazed by the flurry of activity that goes on around this place.  I’d only been here a couple of months, and I became convinced that if I strolled over to church at three in the morning, I’d see six or seven cars in the parking lot and a meeting going on somewhere.  In a typical day here, there are a handful of meetings, a full day of classes in the school, several people stopping by the parish office to schedule Masses, or pick up baptismal certificates, or coming for appointments with us priests or other staff people.  We have people come in for financial and other assistance, perhaps to plan a funeral for a loved one, or pick up lesson plans and supplies for a religious education class.  People come in for daily Mass, or to decorate the church, or come for ministry training.  And all these things have to be supported by people cleaning the church or watering plants, staff members repairing broken furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or changing light bulbs.  We have around fifty staff members involved in every kind of ministry and function here, as well as countless volunteers who support the work of the church in so many ways.

Today we celebrate the feast of the dedication of the St. John Lateran basilica in Rome.  That might seem like a strange feast to celebrate, since few of us have probably ever been there.  But St. John Lateran is a very important church for us Catholics.  It is the “mother church” of all Catholics around the world.  It is the Pope’s parish church, the cathedral of Rome. It’s an enormous basilica built over three hundred years ago on the site of a former church built in the fourth century.  Within the building are representations of the popes going all the way back to Peter.  Over time the churches on this site have been subject to fire, earthquakes and war, and have had to be rebuilt several times.  But a church has always been there. It is a visual reminder, inside and out, of our connection to our tradition and the fact that the Church has survived a lot over the centuries–from both within and without. The building attracts many tourists.  They can’t help but admire this grand edifice, much like the Jews of Jesus’ time strolled the Temple precincts and admired its splendor.

While it is a solid structure, and probably needs constant upkeep, it is a reminder of another edifice, the real Temple Jesus laid the foundation for and Paul and subsequent preachers carefully built upon, and that temple is God’s people.  This structure also requires constant upkeep, that’s what we are about in our celebration today, remembering who we are and “tending to the Temple.”

This church that is ourselves, this temple of the Holy Spirit that we are, needs constant upkeep and maintenance – just like this building where we worship, and just like old St. John Lateran.  Because we often fall into the disrepair of sin or the neglect that is spiritual laziness.  And often the repairs can seem daunting.  But they are certainly possible because of the love of God and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that spirit that brings us back to the Church and helps us with the sacraments.

And that’s the point of today’s celebration.  We remember that we are connected as Catholics throughout the world by our connection to the Pope.  We remember that we ourselves are the temple of God, as St. Paul tells us today, built on the rock-solid foundation of Jesus Christ, built up with the teaching of the apostles, the proclamation of the Holy Scriptures, and the guidance of the Church’s tradition.

The Scriptures today paint the picture of a Church that is not just a building, but is a living thing that goes forth and makes the whole world new.  Just as Ezekiel’s vision painted the picture of water flowing forth from the temple, cleansing and renewing the earth, so the waters of baptism flow forth from the Church of God, taking with it the many ministries of the parishes and the myriad of giftedness possessed by all the baptized believers in all the churches of the world, and flowing out into the world to make a real difference.  This is how the lost come to find salvation.  This is how the poor are fed.  This is how the unborn and the elderly sick are protected.  This is how the world, dark in sin and lost in the disrepair of apathy is bound up and made new and washed clean and healed.  Saint Paul makes it very clear today: we are the temple of God, and we are filled with the Spirit to make a difference in the world.  The Church that is us, we baptized ones, goes forth into a world aching for renewal and brings it all back to the God who made everything, and makes everything new.

And that newness is exactly what Jesus meant when he upturned the moneychangers’ tables and scattered the doves.  Because the doves were needed for the sacrifice, and the money which bore the inscription of pagan deities had to be changed for money that could be brought into the temple treasury – they weren’t doing anything wrong.  But Jesus’ message here is completely different than we might think at first – what he means by all of this is that there is a new temple, the temple that is he himself – that temple which will be torn down by disbelievers but restored in the Resurrection.  There is a new temple, and so that old one with all its dove-sellers and moneychangers isn’t really necessary any more, so take it all and go home, or come to worship rightly, in the temple that is Christ, that temple that will never ever fall into disrepair.

We very much need the church buildings we have among us.  We need St. John Lateran to be a symbol of the Catholic faith that has withstood persecution of every sort and remained standing to give witness to Christ.  We need St. Raphael’s church so that we can come and worship and find our Lord in Word and Sacrament.  But all of that pales in comparison to the importance of the Church that is you and me, and all the baptized ones of every time and place, filled and inspired and breathed forth with the Holy Spirit, gifted beyond imagining, flooding the earth with the torrent of God’s grace, making everything new, and bringing it all back to God who made it all possible.

The task is daunting, but we cannot be afraid to be Church to one another and Church to the world.  As our Psalmist tells us today, “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold!”

Saturday of the Thirty-first Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

“The love of money is the root of all evil.”  “Money can’t buy happiness.”  We have all sorts of proverbs that aim to keep us at right relationship not just with our financial resources, but really with all the many gifts that we have.  Today’s Liturgy of the Word gives us some humble pointers too on this important issue.

St. Paul, in thanking his friends in Philippi for their generous support of his ministry, tells them: “I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance.  In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need.”  His gratitude isn’t so much that their gift to him filled him with plenty, but instead that their gift was a testament to their faith, and their love for the Gospel he preached to them.  He was able to use that gift to further his ministry elsewhere, making Christ known to others who longed to hear of him.

Jesus today speaks to the Pharisees, who, as the Gospel today tells us, “loved money.”  He tells them that their love of money was not going to lead them to God.  Instead, it leads them to dishonest transactions with dishonest people.  Just as a servant cannot serve two masters, so they could not expect to serve both God and mammon, the so-called god of material wealth and greed.

We live in times where the love of money has led us to considerable evil.  Greed and the desire for instant gratification has led people to be overspent and overextended.  Major corporations, greedy for more wealth, playing off the misguided desires of so many people, have defaulted, causing the government to have to step in and save them, for fear their downfall would take the entire world economy with it.  In these days, it may be well for us to hear that we cannot serve both God and mammon.  It may be well for us to come to the conclusion that we can live in both abundance and need.  And it’s never a bad time to hear that we need to make God our only God, yet again.

The Feast of St. John Lateran

Today’s readings

[Celebrating Sunday’s feast today for the school children.]

Have you ever heard the story of the three pigs?  If you have, then you remember that one of them built his house out of straw, and the wolf was able to come along and huff and puff and blow his house down.  The second pig built his house out of sticks, and again, the wolf came along and huffed and puffed and blew the house down.  But the third pig was smarter.  He built his house out of bricks.  So when the wolf came along and huffed and puffed, he wasn’t able to blow the house down and that third pig was able to live safely.

That can be a very scary story when we hear it; the wolf is devious and wants to hurt the little pigs.  But because that third pig was smart and built his house out of the right kind of material, he didn’t have to be afraid.  His house stood up to the wolf and kept the pig safe.  I thought about that story when I read today’s readings.

In our first reading today, Saint Paul talks about us being the temple of God.  We are the temple of God when God dwells in us; when he lives within our hearts.  The foundation of that temple is Jesus.  He gives us a rock solid base for our lives.   We have to be smart and build our temples with the right kinds of things.  What are those things?  Well, they are things like prayer and love and being of service to those in need – feeding the poor, teaching other people about Jesus, going to Church for Mass every week – these are the things that build a good solid temple where God can live and guide us through our lives.

This weekend we celebrate the feast of the dedication of the Cathedral of St. John Lateran in Rome.  This is the Pope’s church, where he serves as bishop.  Because of that, it is called the mother church of all Christianity.  Because it is the Pope’s church, it is like the parish church for all of us Catholics.  The first church was built on that site way back in the fourth century.  Over time, the church and its successors suffered from fire, earthquakes, and war, but there has always been a church there.  The current St. John Lateran was built in the seventeenth century.

The Cathedral of St. John Lateran is more than just a church building.  It’s a symbol of the Catholic faith that has stood the test of time, surviving just like the building survived all those fires and earthquakes and wars.  Just the same way, this building we are worshipping in right now is more than just a building for us.  It’s a symbol of the faith of all of our parishioners, all the people who gave money to have it built because they loved the Lord and loved our parish, and all the people who continue to support the church with their time, talent and treasure.

But even more than that, this church we worship in is a symbol of our relationship with God.  We build a house for worship because we want to be with our God and pray to our God and celebrate our God who gave everything to be with us.

Because Jesus, when he walked on the earth, was a temple too.  In the Gospel he says “destroy this temple and in three days I will build it again!”  He wasn’t talking about the temple in Jerusalem, where the whole thing was taking place.  He was talking about the temple of his body.  What he meant is that he would die – he would be destroyed by those who thought he was dangerous – and in three days he would rise again, destroying death in the process.

So we have to take care of and celebrate all these temples we have.  We have to take care of the church building so that it is always a good place for people to come and pray and find God.  We have to take care of the temple that is the Church in the world, so that it will always be a symbol of our faith and will always lead people to the Lord.  And we have to take care of the temple of our own bodies so that we can be a strong and beautiful place for our Lord to live.

God wants to live with us and in us forever.  We have the strongest foundation we could possibly have – Jesus himself, the son of God.  We just have to build that temple up with the right kinds of things – with prayer, and good works, and holy living.  We have to stay away from things that are bad for us, like drugs, and the wrong kinds of movies and TV, and so-called friends who try to get us to do bad things.   When we do all that, we will have built a strong temple that can lead us through all the good times and especially all the bad times in life.  We all need that kind of faith in our lives.  And when we build our lives up around it, we will never be alone, because God will always be with us.

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