Memorial of Saint Paul Miki and companions, martyrs
(I Kings 8:1-7.9-13; Mark 6:53-56)
Many Americans stayed awake most of the night to watch the royal wedding last year. Even people committed to the democratic tradition are inspired by the pomp and pageantry which punctuate regal ceremonies. They seem to be buoyed up by the festivity as if the dignity of all humans is enhanced by the special celebration of a few. In the first reading today we find a similar upraising of spirit in a national event.
King Solomon has constructed his Temple to the Lord. He is finishing the work his father David aspired to do. As expected of a great nation, which Israel has become, there is now a fitting place where its God may be worshipped. To dedicate the construction a procession weaves through Jerusalem with the sacred objects inherited from antiquity. A sumptuous banquet follows in which the whole nation takes part. The divine author indicates God’s pleasure with the events by describing His presence as a cloud permeating the Temple.
Although Christians believe that the Temple of Jerusalem has given way to the Body of Christ as the locale of acceptable sacrifice, we still revere the place which Jesus calls his “Father’s house.” Pope John Paul II touchingly illustrated this when he took his place of prayer at the Wailing Wall. Jerusalem and especially its Temple are symbols for us of peace among nations where, as Isaiah prophesies, all peoples go to learn the ways of God.