First Reading: 1 Kings 8:1-7, 9-13
The elders of Israel and all the leaders of the tribes,
the princes in the ancestral houses of the children of Israel,
came to King Solomon in Jerusalem,
to bring up the ark of the LORD’s covenant
from the City of David, which is Zion.
All the people of Israel assembled before King Solomon
during the festival in the month of Ethanim (the seventh month).
When all the elders of Israel had arrived,
the priests took up the ark;
they carried the ark of the LORD
and the meeting tent with all the sacred vessels
that were in the tent.
(The priests and Levites carried them.)
King Solomon and the entire community of Israel
present for the occasion
sacrificed before the ark sheep and oxen
too many to number or count.
The priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD
to its place beneath the wings of the cherubim in the sanctuary,
the holy of holies of the temple.
The cherubim had their wings spread out over the place of the ark,
sheltering the ark and its poles from above.
There was nothing in the ark but the two stone tablets
which Moses had put there at Horeb,
when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel
at their departure from the land of Egypt.
When the priests left the holy place,
the cloud filled the temple of the LORD
so that the priests could no longer minister because of the cloud,
since the LORD’s glory had filled the temple of the LORD.
Then Solomon said, “The LORD intends to dwell in the dark cloud;
I have truly built you a princely house,
a dwelling where you may abide forever.”
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 132:6-7, 8-10
R. (8a) Lord, go up to the place of your rest!
Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
Let us enter into his dwelling,
let us worship at his footstool.
R. Lord, go up to the place of your rest!
Advance, O LORD, to your resting place,
you and the ark of your majesty.
May your priests be clothed with justice;
let your faithful ones shout merrily for joy.
For the sake of David your servant,
reject not the plea of your anointed.
R. Lord, go up to the place of your rest!
Gospel: Mark 6:53-56
After making the crossing to the other side of the sea,
Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret
and tied up there.
As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him.
They scurried about the surrounding country
and began to bring in the sick on mats
to wherever they heard he was.
Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered,
they laid the sick in the marketplaces
and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak;
and as many as touched it were healed.
My husband decided last spring that our family needed to hear Scripture everyday, so he started reading the Bible out loud at dinner. We have been hearing a chapter of the Old Testament and a chapter of the New Testament every day we eat dinner at home.
One thing that has struck me in the early books is how God made His presence physically visible with a cloud of smoke. Before the Temple was built He descended upon the tent which contained the ark of the covenant of the Lord. He was not just making Himself present to His prophets, but all of the Israelites could see His presence there.
In the reading today when the ark of the covenant of the Lord was brought into the newly completed temple and into the Holy of Holies, the Lord descended for all to see.
In some ways, I feel like it would have been easy for the Israelites to have faith in that presence, they could at least see God descend. But they wasted this contact with God, becoming unfaithful, and in 2 Maccabbees 2 we hear how Jeremiah took the ark up into a cave in the mountain before the Babylonian exile.
We, too, are present when God comes down. We witness it at every Sacrifice of the Mass. God comes and transforms bread and wine into Himself.
When Jesus is born the Israelites have been without the presence of God in the ark of the covenant for hundreds of years and now that He is walking among they all yearn to touch Him and believe that He will heal them.
How blessed are we that we also get to touch Him. Not just the tassel of His cloak, but He comes into our mouths and our bodies. He heals us every time we receive Him, maybe not physically but His Grace heals our souls.
But I wonder if my faith is like that of the Israelites. I don't always give Him the reverence that is due when I present myself to Him for Communion. I am distracted by someone's outfit, the thought of donuts after Mass, my children's whisperings (or yellings), and I forget to be present to the Lord. I forget the power that comes out from Him in His touch.
How I would love to experience the yearning of the crowds to simply touch Him and be healed. How I would love to have the joy Solomon had at the presence of God in the temple. Let us pray today for a greater faith, greater awe, and greater joy in that God wants to touch us and to heal us.
Pray for joy and awe in the presence of God especially in the Eucharist. Let His touch fill you with healing graces and joy.
Susanna Spencer once studied theology and philosophy, but now happily cares for her three adorable little girls, new baby boy, and her dear husband in Saint Paul. She loves beautiful liturgies, cooking delicious meals, baking amazing sweets, reading good books, raising her children, casually following baseball, and talking to her philosopher husband. You can find out more about her here.