Feb 1, 2020
I remember when we dedicated this church back in November of 2007. Maybe some of you will also remember that day. We were all assembled outside in the piazza with the bishop. The last majority of people had never entered into the building before. After waiting for twenty five years, going through the great front doors and into the main body of the church, you could sense the wonder and awe.
The whole building was filled with light streaming through the windows, the choir heard their voices for the first time echoing and resonating throughout the vast space. The incense swam through the air and reached to the heights as the dedication prayers were being chanted before the Mass began. Everyone seemed to be caught up in a wonder and awe of the presence of God in the midst of his people.
As beautiful and inspiring as the dedication rituals were, blessing the water and adding a new born flame to all the candles, smearing holy chrism oil on the altar, all these signs and symbols only reminded us of a mysterious God who only, it seemed, looked down from the heights, who was, in a manner of speaking, looking in on us from heaven above. For when we entered, the tabernacle was as yet empty - there was as yet no divine presence abiding in this temple.
Although we heard his distant voice speaking to us through the Scriptures being read out loud, it was only when the gifts of bread and wine, placed on the altar were consecrated by the transubstantiating power of the Holy Spirit into the reality of the resurrected Jesus Christ, and we were alerted to it by the ringing of the bell, could we finally say that God has visited his temple and he present right in the midst of his people - that the divine shepherd stands in the midst of his flock.
In many ways, this is no different today and every Sunday, from what happened two thousand years ago. The temple of Jerusalem had been beautifully constructed with the finest materials by the greats of builders. Light and incense danced throughout its archways, the prayers were lifted up, the psalms were chanted around its altar. But then, lost for five hundred years, there was no Arc of the Covenant, no presence of God abiding in the Holy of Holies. It was an empty space.
Until a young virgin mother holding a newborn baby entered through his doors. Mary, the Arc of the Covenant, held within her arms the presence of the eternal God embodied in human flesh and blood. God had returned to his Temple. As the ancient psalm we have sung predicted, “Lift up, O gates, your lintels, reach up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may come in!”
My dear friends, the real presence of Jesus Christ in his glorified body who will enter into this temple through the portal of the sacrament of the altar, and presents himself up to us, makes this church building, this temple, holy, sacred, the meeting place between heaven and earth. There is more power generated for all eternity in a single Mass, than there is from every sun throughout the universe going supernova!
As a way of illustration, if someone were to enter into the core of a nuclear powerhouse wearing layers of protective clothing, they would be shielded from the invisible light and the heat of the radiation. If we were to enter into the house of God, wrapped up tight in the layers of our hardened sins we dare not repent of, we would likewise be shielded from the invisible light and warmth of God’s love and mercy.
It is for that reason, before we are exposed to Holy Communion with God, we must remove our hardened sins and any of the armor of worldly concerns so that when we leave this sacred temple, our whole bodies will radiate the invisible but powerful light of God’s presence in the world. We become a light to the world, a new source of power that comes from the eternal light of God.
Pray for all priests that they will be a worthy conduit of God's presence at every altar. Pray for every deacon that they will channel the power of Christ to those who are in need of God’s grace. Pray for the religious, the nuns and brothers, the monks and missionaries, that they will be a renewable source of God’s energy in the world. Pray for yourselves and each other, that as you leave this sacred temple, you will, like candles whose flames will never die, be a light to the world, so that every one of our actions, seen or unseen, will radiate the warmth of God’s presence to all the earth.
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