Memorial of Saint Paul Miki and Companions, Martyrs
(I Kings 8:22-23.27-30; Mark 7:1-13)
The woman was upset with the Church when her son was told that he could not have his wedding at a garden ceremony. She reasoned that if the Church allows mass to be celebrated in a home, it could permit weddings wherever the couple wished. But most bishops insist that weddings be done in a sacred space to underscore the sacred covenant of marriage. In his prayer that comprises the first reading today Solomon asks a question pertinent to the issue.
The king prays: “’Can it indeed be that God dwells among men on earth? If the heavens cannot contain you, how much less this temple which I have built!’” Solomon has come to the realization that God is not confined to the holy place that he has constructed. Yet he knows that the temple raises minds and hearts to God with its lofty walls, statutes of cherubs, and perennial sacrifice. He would say that when the temple reminds people of God’s closeness, it fulfills his purpose.
Everything on earth may be a sacrament connecting us with God, but many of those things may distract our attention from Him. Temples and churches generally avoid the ambiguity. We are wise like Solomon to follow his lead of praying that God watch over our churches. People need places set apart to remind them of God’s grandeur.