The glory of the Lord departed from the temple… [Ezekiel 10:18]
Do you know that the only reason you are physically alive is because your soul is still attached to your physical body? Your soul is what gives life to your physical body. Without the soul, you cannot live. At death, when the soul separates from the physical body and enters eternity, your physical body goes into the ground, for it cannot live with the soul. Apart from the soul, there is no life in the physical body.
In the same way, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the Holy Spirit is the life of the Church. If the Holy Spirit did not dwell in the midst of the Church, the Church would be nothing but a dead institution, going nowhere and accomplishing nothing of eternal value for God.
Busy-ness = Alive in Christ?
This is why it must be understood that “busyness” is not indicative of spiritual life within the Church. Supermarkets and post offices are very busy places; yet they possess no spiritual life within them. There tends to be an unspoken belief among many that the more active a local church is, the more “alive in Christ” it must be.
If you want to discern whether or not a church is truly “alive,” you must look at the spiritual fruit that is being produced in its midst. If you’re looking at church “busyness,” you’re looking at the wrong pile of fruit. The fruit that matters the most is that of transformation. Are people’s lives being truly transformed by the Spirit of Christ so that they truly reflect the Lord Jesus Christ?
If year after year people are remaining the same, even though a particular church may boast of all sorts of activities and programs, something is amiss.
When people are not following the Spirit of God, mortal sin in the camp is the inevitable consequence. When this mortal sin remains year in and year out, with people not repenting of it because they are not being taught the need to do so, the Spirit of God, which is the life of the Church, becomes grieved and offended.
Not only this, but we then run the risk of driving Him from our midst just as He was driven from the midst of Israel in the days of the prophet Ezekiel. When this happens, you have a building, you have people, and you have all sorts of religious activity, but without the Spirit in your midst, you have no life.
Refusing to Listen to the Spirit
In the days of Ezekiel, he received a vision of what was taking place in the holy temple in Jerusalem. The people and the priests were sinning against God in many different ways. They were in rebellion against Him. They were not living according to the laws that had been set down by God. They were giving God what they wanted to give instead of what His truth demanded. And yet, they kept on with their sacrifices and outward religious ceremonies. The temple in Jerusalem was a religiously busy and hopping place.
Time and time again, God spoke to both priests and people alike and warned them about their need to repent, but they all refused to listen. Eventually, His Spirit had had enough. It was time to depart, and depart He did. In the spirit, Ezekiel literally saw the glory of God (His Presence and His Spirit) leave the temple. All that remained were the people, the sacrifices, and the prayers. But without the Spirit, there was no more spiritual life within the temple. Therefore, the sacrifices and the prayers were also lifeless.
Like a corpse that is kept “alive” on artificial respiration long after the soul has departed from the body, the religious activity taking place within the temple kept on “keeping on,” but it went nowhere and accomplished nothing for God, because His Spirit had departed, being driven out by sin, rebellion, and man’s refusal to repent.
Let us listen to what the Spirit is saying to us through the vision received by Ezekiel in his day. Let us take note, brothers and sisters, and understand that what goes for Israel also goes for Christ’s Church.
It is up to you as an individual to study the Catechism and the Sacred Scriptures on your own so that you will know how God is calling you to live. You must arm yourself with knowledge so that you will not unknowingly engage in beliefs and practices that go against what has always been established as Catholic truth. This is the only way that we can guard ourselves against mortal sin.
We are temples of the Holy Spirit. As such, we must keep our lives free and clear of mortal sin. If our churches are filled with men and women who have given themselves over to mortal sin, then how can the Spirit move in our midst? He cannot, for the channels have been clogged.
Just as mortal sin kills the life of sanctifying grace in the soul, and only confession and repentance can bring about its restoration, if left unchecked year after year after year in the life of a congregation, it will eventually kill the spiritual life of that local church. You can have Bible studies, fiestas, potluck dinners, plays, this club and that, but without the Spirit’s active presence dwelling in the midst of that church, you have no life.
All you will have are religious activities…
… going nowhere and accomplishing nothing of eternal significance for the Kingdom of God.
Header Image CC Nheyob