Reading (1 Kings 8:1-7, 9-13)†† Gospel (St. Mark 6:53-56)
In the first reading today, we hear about King Solomon at the time that he dedicated the temple which he had built to the Lord. As that dedication takes place, the priests bring the Ark of the Covenant from the tent where it had been up to the new temple, and as they place the Ark into the Holy of Holies, the temple is filled with a dark cloud. You will recognize that same basic cloud when we hear about Our Lord at the Transfiguration. You also recognize that it was there when Moses would enter the meeting tent, and most gloriously of all at the time when the Holy Spirit descended upon our Blessed Lady at the time of the Incarnation. We see that wherever Godís glory dwelt, that is where the glory cloud was. In this case, the priests were not able to minister because of the cloud. They could not see; they were not able to function. We have to remember too that this was only a one-time thing. The cloud was not there constantly, even though the Lord continued to dwell there. It was just there at the beginning of things for the Lord to be able to show the people that He was very pleased with what it was they had done.
Now we have the Lord right in front of us dwelling in a way that is almost infinitely more glorious than the way He was dwelling in the temple of old. There He was present among the people because He had chosen them. In the Ark of the Covenant were the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. We have Our Lord truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. It is not just a form of Godís presence, that is, the way that God was present in the Old Testament in the temple, but rather we have God Himself actually and truly present. He is sacramentally present, not physically so, but nonetheless it is the reality of the fullness of the very Person of Jesus Christ.
If we think about it, there are different modes of Godís presence. He is present everywhere by His immensity, that is, He has to keep everything in being at all times. In that way, we would also have to say that He is present even among the demons because He has to keep them in being; He has to keep hell itself in existence or it would cease to exist. So whatever the thing happens to be, whether it is the rocks or the trees or anything else, God is present by immensity to be able to keep everything there. God is present within each one of us in His indwelling presence. The Most Holy Trinity dwells in each one us provided that we are in the state of grace, a different form of Godís presence and a far more profound form. But now in the Blessed Sacrament, He is substantially present in a sacramental form. It is the whole Person of Christ Who is present among us, not quite the way He was when we hear about Him in the Gospel going into the towns and villages and healing people because that was a physical presence of the Lord, that is, the way we are right here, physically present. In the Blessed Sacrament, He is not physically present; He is sacramentally present. But it is still the fullness of Christ, the fullness of His Person.
So when we see how the people went to Our Lord to be healed, we need to be able to do the same thing. He is present far more powerfully now than He ever was in the Old Testament, yet what happens for us sometimes is that we so take Him for granted that we are unlike the people of Gennesaret. They went and found the people to bring to the Lord in order to be touched, in order to be healed. Perhaps we have just gotten so accustomed to His presence that we take Him for granted. We are the ones who need to be healed, not physically, necessarily, but spiritually. That means we have to be willing to open our hearts, to come before Him and make ourselves vulnerable, to allow Him to enter more and more deeply into our hearts and to fill us with that glory cloud, to fill us with His presence. There we can minister to Him as He ministers to us, because it is there in the depth of our being, in the temple of that He has made for Himself Ė our own hearts Ė that we are going to find Him in the fullness of His glory, especially when we receive Him in Holy Communion. There we can be one with Him, to commune with Him literally in our hearts. And there, as the glory of the Lord fills this temple of our own selves, we will be able to recognize with Solomon that this is the place where God has chosen to dwell and it is here that He desires to dwell forever, that is, forever in this life until finally the day comes when we can enter into the temple He has prepared for us and we will enter fully into Him in the eternal glory of heaven.
*† This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.†††††††