10th February. Monday, Week Five
1st Reading: 1 Kings 8:1-7, 9-13
(At the dedication of the temple, a cloud fills the sanctuary to symbolize the Lord’s awesome presence.)
Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the Israelites, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. All the people of Israel assembled to King Solomon at the festival in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests carried the ark. So they brought up the ark of the Lord, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the priests and the Levites brought them up.
King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered. Then the priests brought the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. For the cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering above the ark and its poles.
There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone that Moses had placed there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites, when they came out of the land of Egypt. And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.
Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever.”
Gospel: Mark 6:53-56
(Wherever Jesus went, the sick were brought to him. Whoever touched him got well.)
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
Where is the Real Sanctuary?
The temple at Jerusalem, whose dedication is celebrated in First Kings, was considered a mirror of God’s heavenly home, a reflection of the Lord’s marvellous presence throughout the universe, the place for re-enacting the redemptive acts of God in the history of his chosen people. These redemptive acts are focussed with strength and compassion in the acts of Jesus. The reading Â from Mark speaks about the real world of our experience, where our bodies feel aches and pains and search for healing. Then there is the passage from First Kings about the symbolic world of the temple. Symbol does not mean untrue but signifies a deeper meaning within the real and is a means enabling us to savour the mystery of God’s presence in the “real” world round about us.
It is important then to note that the sacred ceremonies of the sanctuary–whether it be the Holy of Holies of the Jerusalem temple or the central area of our churches with eucharistic table and tabernacle–lose their meaning if they lose contact with the physical world of earth and sky (even with the adornments of each, like stars or animals or fishes) or if they are no longer vivid reminders of God’s redemptive power healing us in our sickness, forgiving us in our weakness, inspiring us with hope. At the same time, we see that without sanctuary services and church liturgy we easily lose sight of the mysterious presence of God in our universe and in our daily secular living.
We are the instruments of God to cleanse and consecrate our good world. Our touch of kindness and love is the touch of Jesus; our word of forgiveness and encouragement is the word of God. Each touch heals; each word is creative. The liturgy then brings us to the heart of the mystery of our real world.