Immersed in Christ: February 11, 2020
Tuesday, Week Five in Ordinary Time
How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, mighty God! (Responsorial: Psalm 84)
In 1Kings 8:22-30 Solomon is over-awed that the Infinite Greatness of God would come to dwell in his temple:
O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below.... Can it indeed be that God dwells among humans on earth? If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you, how much less this temple that I have built!
Solomon sees the temple, not just as a place where God is, but as a place where people can interact with God. It is a “place where you have decreed you shall be honored.” People will come to worship there. He asks God to “listen to the petitions... which they offer in this place.” God is not infinitely distant. In his temple he “dwells among humans on earth,” inviting us to meet him there and interact with him.
This is a faint preview of the way God “bridged the gap” between him and us when God the Son took flesh in Jesus to be among us as a human being. When Jesus was on earth, people could hear God speaking to them with a human voice, see him listening to them with human ears. They could reach out and touch him, feel him touching them. We still can. This is the mystery of Christianity: the divine and the human in physical contact, “God with us.”
It is true that, as ongoing Creator, God dwells in everything he made, giving it existence, power to act, being the taste in the coffee, the beauty of the flowers, empowering the movement of every bodily limb. “In him we live and move and have our being.” But this is not the same as interacting with him, person to Person. That is the gift of God revealing himself first in his words and then in the fullness of his Word made flesh. 1
For real, human-divine interaction, God is more available in the Bible than in the Ark of the Covenant or in Solomon’s temple. The Church teaches: “In the sacred books the Father who is in heaven meets his children with great love and speaks with them. And the force and power in the word of God is so great that it remains the support and energy of the Church.” 2
So why would anyone neglect to seek him out, fail to commit to discipleship, to meeting with God regularly through reading and reflection on his word?
In Mark 7:1-13 Jesus tells us it is possible even for instructed Christians to “nullify God’s word.” They do it by focusing, not on the words of Scripture, but on “the traditions” handed down to them that they continue to hand down to others. These “traditions” are not what we mean by the living Tradition that is a source of Church doctrine. They are the second-hand exposure to Christian belief that we get from teachers and preachers who may or may not be themselves in continuing, live contact with God’s word. The only defense against this is to read the Bible ourselves, alert to the mind and heart of the Person speaking the words.
Initiative: Do I feel the difference when I read God’s words prayerfully myself?
1 Acts 17:28; John 1:1-14; Hebrews 1:1-3. 2 Vatican II, “Liturgy,” no. 33.