Recently, the daily Mass readings from the Old Testament have been from 1 Kings, where Solomon dedicates the Temple. The Psalms for the week reflect the importance of the temple:
Yes, the LORD has chosen Zion, desired it for a dwelling:
“This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I desire it.
I will bless Zion with provisions;
Its poor I will fill with bread.
I will clothe its priests with salvation;
Its devout shall shout for joy.” (Psalm 132:13-16)
Initially, these passages sounded out-of-touch and archaic. After all, Solomon built that temple hundreds and hundreds of years ago. We know it was destroyed when Israel was exiled, long before Jesus was born. God even refused King David’s desire to build the temple, giving the impression that the temple wasn’t even all that necessary.
But Was It Necessary?
Looking back at Psalm 132, verse 13 says, “The LORD has chosen Zion, desired it for a dwelling.” God did want to have a physical home on earth. He wanted to be present among us.
As Christians, this is clear for us when we consider the Incarnation.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:14)
The whole point of Jesus’s life (and death) was to show us how much God loves us.
That’s pretty mind-boggling.
But Wait — It Gets Even Better!
God didn’t stop there.
Yes, He came to live as a human to show us how much he loves us. He even died a horrific death, caused by us, to also show us how much He loves us. It’s not possible to over-stress how incredible that is.
Yet God, wanting to drive home the message of how abundant His love is for us, gave us the Eucharist.
Yes, his disciples were probably weirded-out when Jesus told them to eat His flesh and drink His blood. To be honest, we’re still weirded-out when we spend much time thinking about it like that. (Shoot — even if we spend too much time thinking about where our hamburgers come from, we all have a tendency to consider that vegetarianism has its merits!)
And drinking blood? That’s just not OK in any other context. In fact, it still sounds like we’re flirting with the Dark Side, even in this context.
But that’s just it — Jesus, through His death, entered into the Dark Side, defeated it, and gave us His Body and Blood so we can share in hHis victory and His life!
As we eat His Body and drink His Blood, we have Jesus Christ literally living in us. Just like Mary, who had Jesus growing in her womb, we also have Jesus living in us, through the Eucharist!
Mary was symbolic of Ark of the Covenant, because while Jesus resided in her womb, she was the house of God. Thanks to the Eucharist, and Jesus living in us because of the Eucharist, we are also Arks of the Covenant!
Therefore, you are also a temple of God, just like the Temple in Jerusalem that we have been reading about!
All of a sudden, thinking in these terms, those passages from 1 Kings about Solomon building and dedicating the Temple that seemed dry and outdated, they infused themselves with meaning!
Solomon built that temple with the help of hundreds, even thousands of people over the course of thirteen years. It was a tremendous undertaking.
Thanks to the gift of the Eucharist, we can become temples of God every week — even every day!
It’s not just something we feel like we should do, or an obligation we have.
In Psalm 132, God says, “Here I will dwell, for I desire it.”
God doesn’t just want to live in you — He desires it. That word “desire” implies a longing, a yearning that is a great deal deeper than a mere wish or want.
So if God desires us like that, we should be running to the altar with the same amount of enthusiasm!
Not only that, but when we consider that Jesus Christ also lives in everyone who partakes of the Eucharist, we can begin to fulfill that unity that Jesus prayed for among his followers.
“I pray … that they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they may also be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” (John 17:21)
Not only are you a temple of God, but I am, and the guy across the street is a temple, and your daughter is, and those people who live on the “shady” side of town are, as well as people across the country, in Honduras, in Vietnam, in Kenya!
As mind-boggling as it is to think of how much God loves us, it’s every bit as astounding to think how many living temples to God there are in the whole world!
Loving your neighbor isn’t something we should do just because Jesus told us to, or because it’s the right thing to do. Considering that Christ lives in our neighbors, we love our neighbors (both here and abroad) because Christ also lives in them.
With the joy and lavishness that Solomon used to build the Temple in Jerusalem, we need to build up our brothers and sisters — in our own homes and around the world.
Copyright 2020 Jill Michelle Douglas