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5th Week, Monday, Feb 10: Reflection & Liturgy


1 Kings 8:1-7, 9-13 / Mark 6:53-56

The ark is placed in the Temple: A cloud filled the Temple.

In his spiritual autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton describes a religious experience he had. The summer after graduating from high school, he traveled around Europe on his own. During his travels he discovered Europe’s magnificent cathedrals, with their inspiring statues and stained glass. He writes: “I began to haunt the churches. . . . For the first time in my life I began to find out something of who the person was that men called Christ. . . .But above all. . . [I began to experience] Christ himself present in those churches.” It was this kind of experience of God’s presence that the people had in today’s reading.
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Where do we experience God’s presence most in our own life? “God enters by a private door into every individual.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Whatever poor opinions some people may have about the Mass, there might be times when we wished that something dramatic will happen at Mass that will make them change their minds. But whatever we wish may also not be likely to happen, and those who are skeptical and cynical about the Mass may not be likely to change their stand, even if something dramatic will happen.

In the 1st reading, something dramatic did happen when the ark of the covenant was brought in to the Temple. A cloud, symbol of the presence of God, filled the Temple and because of the cloud, the priests could no longer perform their duties: the glory of the Lord filled the Temple.

We may think that this dramatic event will reinforce the faith of the people and that it will be remembered by the future generations.

Yet, in 586 BC, the Temple was razed to the ground by Israel's enemies because the people lost faith in God and they even defiled the Temple, maybe because they couldn't see God's presence in the Temple.

But when Jesus stepped out of the boat at Gennesaret, the people recognized Him and started hurrying all through the countryside and brought the sick on stretchers for Him to heal them and they even begged to touch the fringe of His cloak so that they can be healed.

Somehow, the people were able to see the presence of God in Jesus. God's presence was not just in the Temple. God has now come to be with the people in the person of Jesus. And Jesus is now present in us and because we receive Him in Holy Communion, we carry His presence in our hearts.

May others see the presence of Jesus in us, and may we also believe deeply in the presence of Jesus at Mass.
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Monday of 5th Week -Liturgy


 A GOD SO NEAR WE CAN TOUCH

Introduction
The first reading describes the dedication of the Temple built by King Solomon. God comes to take possession of his temple. It was so holy that the priests could not stay inside to perform their duties. In the New Testament, God’s Son is close to the people. They recognize the face of Jesus, run after him, and touch his clothes. They can now see and feel the nearness and humanity of God in Jesus Christ. 

Opening Prayer
All-loving and healing God, in your Son, Jesus Christ, you have shown us what it means to be fully human and you let him bring to all who receive him the healing of forgiveness and life. Let him touch us with his saving hands and let him speak to us his restoring word, that he may make us whole and free and that with him, we may fight all evil and serve you, our living God, and the people you have entrusted to us. We ask this in the name of Jesus, the Lord.

Commentary
Our readings today are full of movement. In the reading from Kings, there is a solemn procession bringing the ark of the covenant to its resting place in the Holy of Holies of the newly completed temple. Sacrifices are offered with the presence of the priests and elders. With the ark, the presence of the invisible God was “localized.” It served as his throne or footstool and contained the tablets of the law that Moses had placed there. It remained in the most sacred part of the temple, where only the high priest entered once a year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) for ritual sacrifice. This description of the temple’s dedication reflects the sacredness of the moment for the Hebrew people. The Gospel reminds us that God is present in Jesus in a most unique way. In his ministry, he cannot escape the crowd. Wherever he goes, he is recognized, with people bringing their sick to him in ever greater numbers. In Jesus, God becomes accessible, something certainly worthy of our reflection. Ours is not some distinct deity, infinitely separated from us. Our God shares our human experience in knowing what it means to be ill, to be alone, to be in need. And, in addition, there is our added access in the Eucharist, through that we can come to him to be nourished, strengthened, and consoled on our earthly journey. The psalm today prays for our God to advance to his resting place. Yet in this new dispensation he has become the source of our rest. His great desire is to be of help. As Mark says today, all who touched him were healed. 

Points to Ponder
The sacredness of the ark
The temple and the presence of the ark
Jesus as the presence of God
The Eucharist: our source of life

 Intercessions
– That the sick and all those who suffer may feel how the Lord Jesus touches them in those who care for them, we pray:
– That those who have lost the way to church may still pray to the Lord, and eventually return to the community, we pray:
– That the men and the women who help keep our churches neat and clean and those who help make our places of worship attractive may grow close to the Lord, we pray: 

Prayer over the Gifts
Almighty God, as we bring before you these gifts of bread and wine, we thank you with Jesus and through him, for the healing you let him bring to us. Keep touching us with his gentle hands and speaking to us his kindly words that restore us and create us anew. Inspire us to live for one another and for you, our living God, now and for ever. 

Prayer after Communion
Lord, our God, you let your Son become one of us, and through him, you can fully understand the pains and joys we experience. By the strength and healing, he has brought us here, may we reach out to one another and share in each other’s laughter and pain. And when words fail us, let us just be near to those who suffer in respectful silence, by the grace of him who is near to us and heals us from all our ills, Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

Blessing
As people healed by the touch of Jesus, let us become healers to one another, with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.