1 Kings 8:22-23, 27-30 / Mark 7:1-13
Solomon prays to God: “Listen to my prayer!”
Henry Nouwen is an authority on the spiritual life. He makes this surprising statement in his book Prayer and Hope: “[The person] who prays with hope might ask for everything . . . like nice weather and advancement. This concreteness is a sign of authenticity. . . . “All those concrete requests are merely . . . ways of saying that we must trust in the fullness of God’s goodness. . . . Whenever we pray with hope we put our lives in the hands of God.”Today’s reading reminds us not to hesitate to place before God all our concrete needs. How concretely and specifically do we speak to God about the affairs of our life? Jesus said to his disciples, “Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that "The Church is both visible and spiritual, a hierarchical society and the Mystical Body of Christ. She is one, yet formed of two components, human and divine. That is her mystery, which only faith can accept." (#779) Yes, the Church is human as well as divine. Yet at times, the flawed humanness of the Church has also blurred the divine aspect of the Church. In other words, if the Church fails to be like Jesus Christ her Lord, then she has failed in being essentially what she was created to be.
In the 1st reading, king Solomon marvelled and praised God for coming down from the highest heavens to dwell in the humble Temple he had built. Yet his prayer is nothing less than a plea - Listen to the prayer and entreaty of your servant, Lord my God; listen to the cry and to the prayer your servant makes to you today. Day and night let your eyes watch over this house, over this place of which you have said, "My name shall be there".
Yes, it is so easy for people to lose the sense of the divine presence in the house of God and when that happens, the presence of evil starts to grow in the hearts of the people who can be right there in the house of God.
That was why king Solomon pleaded that God watches over the Temple which is a sign of His presence among His people.
Similarly in the gospel, Jesus admonished Pharisees and scribes for putting aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.
So it is like doing something religious but with an ulterior human motive and vested interest.
When that happens in the Church, then we have failed. We have showed a sinful human side of the Church and suppressed the divine aspect.
We need to plead to God as one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church: Listen to the prayer and entreaty of your servants, Lord my God; listen to the cry and to the prayer your servants make to You today. Day and night let Your eyes watch over this house, over this place of which You have said, "My name shall be there".
Tuesday of 5th Week: Liturgy
THE TEMPLE IS FOR PEOPLE
At the dedication of the Temple of Jerusalem, King Solomon prayed to the Lord. He asked God to be always present in the temple for the sake of the covenant; thus, he would be available to people expressing their needs. After a period of initial fervor, the teaching of the Pharisees began to imply that people were to be sacrificed for the sake of the Temple, that religious traditions (made by people and juridical) were more important than God’s laws, which are supposed to be interior to people and express a personal relationship. Jesus takes them to much task for it. For the Temple of the Lord is there for people, not people for the Temple.
Father, God of the ever-new covenant, you have tied us to yourself with leading strings of lasting love; the words you speak to us are spirit and life. Open our hearts to your words, that they may touch us in the deepest of ourselves. May they move us to serve you not in a slavish way, but as your sons and daughters who love you and whom you have set free through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!” Solomon stands in awesome wonder before God in today’s first reading. How could it be that the God whom the heavens cannot contain should dwell in a house built by human hands. This suggests how closely God abides with us. Hate crimes sometimes take the form of burning churches. This is seen as particularly sacrilegious, because in every church God comes close to his people. As Christians we believe that God dwells in Jesus in a totally unique way. God is also believed to be present in his word, and therefore we surround the scriptures with special reverence. Christ is also present in the form of bread and wine, not only symbolically but really. This is the great sacrament of God’s love. But it does not end there. Christ truly lives in the baptized believer. With Paul we can say, “And it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). As Christians we respect each other as human beings but also as living temples of God, vessels of Christ. These are primary considerations of our faith. Unfortunately, like the people in today’s Gospel, we are preoccupied with secondary issues. Yet when all is said and done, this alone is necessary: to know God, and to know Jesus Christ, who was sent by God.
Points to Ponder
Reverence for a church
God’s presence in his Word
The Eucharist: Christ’s presence Christ living in the Christian
– For the Church, that it may not replace the Gospel with rites and laws of human invention, but bring to people the freedom, the gentleness and the light of Christ, we pray:
– For those who are upset by the changes in the Church, that they may learn to appreciate the attempts of God’s people to understand and live our faith in a contemporary way that remains true to the Gospel, we pray:
– For us who share in the Lord’s table, that we may learn from Jesus that love is the heart of the law and that true love knows how to serve, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God, we bring before you our readiness to respond to your love. Strengthen us with the body and blood of your Son Jesus Christ, that with him, we may be dedicated to you with our whole mind and heart, and that we may be capable of communicating your love and justice to all those around us. Grant this through Christ, our Lord.
Prayer after Communion
Lord our God, your Son has shared himself with us in this Eucharistic celebration. Give us his Spirit of strength, we pray you, that we may also share in his attitude of openness to your will and to the needs of people. May we thus, fulfill more than the law and serve you as your sons and daughters, in whom you recognize Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord for ever.
As grateful children of God, let us put our hearts in seeking in the commandments not our will but the will of God, so that we do not ask what God orders us to do but simply how we can respond to his love and show that love to the people around us. May God bless you all: the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.