by Father Mike Stubbs
Today, if you travel to Jerusalem, you can visit the Temple Mount, where the Temple built by King Solomon in 955 B.C. once stood. However, it was destroyed long ago.
Now a Muslim mosque, the Qubbet es Sakhra, or the Dome of the Rock, stands on that location. This is the latest of the many places of worship on that spot.
After the Babylonians destroyed Solomon’s Temple in 587 B.C., it was rebuilt by Jews returning from exile in 537 B.C.
King Herod undertook a massive remodeling of the Temple in 29 B.C. That project was finished in 64 A.D., only to have it once again destroyed by the Romans in 70. In its place, the Romans set up a temple to the god Jupiter in 135.
After the Arab conquest, construction on the present mosque was begun in 691.
As you can see, this piece of real estate has changed hands many times. Consequently, it is a point of contention even now between Muslims and Jews. It is surrounded by controversy. It is a favorite place for riots.
Compare it to a similar spot in India where a Muslim mosque built on a site sacred to Hindus was torn down in 1992.
Recently, a court ruling has given permission to build a Hindu temple there. Understandably, the two groups are at odds over this.
In Sunday’s first reading, Is 2:1-5, the prophet sees a vision concerning the Temple Mount, “the mountain of the Lord’s house.”
He envisions that it “shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills.” Clearly, this does not refer to its physical height but, rather, to its importance for the world.
Instead of a point of controversy, it becomes a place of unity for the nations. The prophet says: “All nations shall stream toward it.”
Similarly, it becomes a source of peace for the world: “For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lordfrom Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.”
This wonderful vision of peace for Jerusalem and for the world has yet to come to fulfillment.
It is something for which we should earnestly pray, following the instruction of Ps 122:6: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!”
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