Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church

Lectionary: 424

I fell prone as the glory of the LORD entered the temple
by way of the gate which faces the east, 
but spirit lifted me up and brought me to the inner court.
And I saw that the temple was filled with the glory of the LORD. 
Then I heard someone speaking to me from the temple,
while the man stood beside me. 
The voice said to me: 
Son of man, this is where my throne shall be, 
this is where I will set the soles of my feet; 
here I will dwell among the children of Israel forever.

God promises to abide with us always. From his revelations to Moses in the desert to the last words of the Gospel of Saint Matthew, and throughout the Book of Revelations we have continual reassurances, "I am with you always." 

In today's first reading Ezekiel, seer and prophet, is shown the glorious temple where God will abide with his people again. Ezekiel had first seen a vision of God -- He was mounted on a flaming chariot that flew like the wind -- near the River Chebar, which was in Babylon. A long way from Jerusalem. That vision assured the Prophet and anyone who would listen to him, "You may be removed from Jerusalem but I am not removed from you! I can go anywhere and I will always go with you." 

In today's vision, Ezekiel sees the ruined temple restored, and more beautiful than it had ever been. More importantly he hears the Lord promise again, "This is where I will plant the soles of my feet; here I will dwell among the children of Israel forever." 

In fact the temple was rebuilt though it was not nearly as splendid as Solomon's original structure. King Herod and his nephew Herod Antipas were still trying to make it splendid at the time of Jesus. All for naught, because the entire city was levelled in 70 AD, leaving only the Wailing Wall to remember the ancient splendor. 

Oddly, as Pope Benedict XVI said in his book about Jesus, the early Church evinced no grief about that disaster. You would think they at least revered the holy place where Jesus had worshipped, even if they no longer went on pilgrimage to the Holy City; but the calamity is not even mentioned in the New Testament. 

They had found the soles of his feet planted in their own congregations, wherever and whenever they worshipped together. 

Our Catholic tradition honors this solemn promise of God with our tabernacles, where the Blessed Sacrament is kept. If they're not front and center in the apse they're available in a smaller devotional chapel, a quiet place removed from the occasional bedlam of the nave. 

The parish church is also a sacred reminder of God's presence. They have been placed in cities, town, hamlets and along country roads for as long as anyone can remember. 

But far surpassing those locked boxes and lovely buildings, the Sunday Mass demonstrates God's abiding presence with us. There the promise to Moses is fulfilled, we meet God face to face. 

God has not promised anyone an easy life. Nor should we expect prosperity, popularity, good luck, or good health. As lovely as those gifts are, far surpassing them is the Presence of God among us.  

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.