Jesus—A God So Near We Can Touch
The first reading describes the dedication of the Temple built by King Solomon. God comes to take possession of his temple. It was so holy that the priests could not stay inside to perform their duties.
In the New Testament, God’s Son is close to the people. They recognise the face of Jesus, run after him, and touch his clothes. They can now see and feel the nearness and humanity of God in Jesus Christ.
1 Reading: 1 Kings 8:1-7, 9-13
The elders of Israel and all the leaders of the tribes, the princes in the ancestral houses of the children of Israel, came to King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the LORD’s covenant from the City of David, which is Zion. All the people of Israel assembled before King Solomon during the festival in the month of Ethanim (the seventh month). When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the priests took up the ark; they carried the ark of the LORD and the meeting tent with all the sacred vessels that were in the tent. (The priests and Levites carried them.) King Solomon and the entire community of Israel present for the occasion sacrificed before the ark sheep and oxen too many to number or count. The priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place beneath the wings of the cherubim in the sanctuary,the holy of holies of the temple. The cherubim had their wings spread out over the place of the ark, sheltering the ark and its poles from above. There was nothing in the ark but the two stone tablets which Moses had put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel at their departure from the land of Egypt. When the priests left the holy place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORDbso that the priests could no longer minister because of the cloud, since the LORD’s glory had filled the temple of the LORD. Then Solomon said, “The LORD intends to dwell in the dark cloud; I have truly built you a princely house, a dwelling where you may abide forever.”
Responsorial Psalm: PS 132:6-7, 8-10
R. (8a) Lord, go up to the place of your rest!
Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
Let us enter into his dwelling,
let us worship at his footstool. R.
Advance, O LORD, to your resting place,
you and the ark of your majesty.
May your priests be clothed with justice;
let your faithful ones shout merrily for joy.
For the sake of David your servant,
reject not the plea of your anointed. R.
Alleluia cf. Matthew 4:23
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom
and cured every disease among the people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mark 6:53-56
After making the crossing to the other side of the sea, Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret and tied up there. As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him. They scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed.
Our readings today are full of movement. In the reading from Kings, there is a solemn procession bringing the ark of the covenant to its resting place in the Holy of Holies of the newly completed temple. Sacrifices are offered with the presence of the priests and elders. With the ark, the presence of the invisible God was “localised.” It served as his throne or footstool and contained the tablets of the law that Moses had placed there. It remained in the most sacred part of the temple, where only the high priest entered once a year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) for ritual sacrifice. This description of the temple’s dedication reflects the sacredness of the moment for the Hebrew people.
The Gospel reminds us that God is present in Jesus in a most unique way. In his ministry, he cannot escape the crowd. Wherever he goes, he is recognised, with people bringing their sick to him in ever greater numbers. In Jesus, God becomes accessible, something certainly worthy of our reflection.
Ours is not some distinct deity, infinitely separated from us. Our God shares our human experience in knowing what it means to be ill, to be alone, to be in need. And, in addition, there is our added access in the Eucharist, through that we can come to him to be nourished, strengthened, and consoled on our earthly journey.
The psalm today prays for our God to advance to his resting place. Yet in this new dispensation he has become the source of our rest. His great desire is to be of help. As Mark says today, all who touched him were healed.
As people healed by the touch of Jesus, let us become healers to one another, let us give someone a healing touch, with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!