Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Prayer of Solomon

As we continue to read the story of Solomon, today he asks a question that will later be at the center of the Christian Faith.

"Can it indeed be that God dwells on earth?"

Our answer is of course a resounding yes.

We can often forget how the theft and disappearance of the ark, as well as the destruction of the temple changed forever the Jewish faith. All one has to do is visit the remnant of the wall of the temple that remains to understand its profound significance.

Today's reading ends with Solomon's prayer:

"May your eyes watch night and day over this temple,
the place where you have decreed you shall be honored;
may you heed the prayer which I, your servant, offer in this place.
Listen to the petitions of your servant and of your people Israel
which they offer in this place.
Listen from your heavenly dwelling and grant pardon."

For us who are Christians this prayer is most appropriate when we walk into a church and we see the candle that marks the place where the Eucharist is reserved. Do we even acknowledge the fullness of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist anymore?

As a priest I watch people day after day walk into the chapel at our Chancery, or into one of the parish churches and rarely do I see anyone even acknowledge the tabernacle, or who is present in it. No genuflection, no bow, hardly even a glance toward it.

Why is this a big deal? If we have lost the ability to recognize and revere the presence of God in a church or chapel, how can we hope show reverence and respect for the Holy Spirit in her other temple, us, in the street or at work.

Gestures like bowing and genuflecting may seem small matters, but like the use of expressions like "please" and "thank you" they reflect a deeper attitude. And the practice of these small gestures can over time reshape our interior self.