1Kgs 8:1-7, 9-13; Ps 132:6-10; Mk 6:53-56
Saint Scholastica and Saint Benedict were twins. They came from wealth and gave all they had away to God and to the needy, and they lived a life of simplicity and contemplation. Early monks and nuns often murmured wisdom because they were memorizing the psalms and other scripture passages in what has been called lectio divina. The Rule of Saint Benedict prohibits murmuring when such speech contains only complaining and cynicism. However, the sisters under the guidance of Saint Scholastica murmured wisdom. The Word of God was the constant preoccupation for the nuns and monks. It permeated their days and their conversations. Since the Law of the LORD was in their hearts, their footsteps did not falter. They found refuge in time of distress. In her own distress, Saint Scholastica pleaded with her twin brother for him to stay with her in conversation about the Wisdom of God all night long. He refused. The LORD did not refuse Saint Scholastica; a violent storm kept Saint Benedict with twin till the dawn of day. Only three days later the reluctant brother saw his sister’s soul ascend into heaven in the form of a dove. Saint Benedict learned about compassion from his twin. The necessity of obedience to the Rule is always mitigated by charity. Although a good monk may never stay away the whole night, Saint Scholastica wanted her twin to share his vision of heavenly glory with her just one more time before her death. In three days her request was vindicated, and upon her death Saint Benedict had her buried in the tomb he had prepared for himself. As they were united in living the monastic life, they were united in the same grave. This unity is complete in the fullness of the kingdom of heaven. This is the promise made to all who commit their life to the LORD and trust in him.
Merrily we come before the LORD. With joy and gladness we approach his dwelling place. Indeed, with great awe and wonder we worship at his footstool. The LORD advanced to his resting place among the people. He came to meet his festive nation, and the sure sign of his presence is the ark of his majesty. In order to touch the ark his priests had to be clothed with justice, and only at his command would they dare such contact. Only while his faithful ones shout merrily for joy would the priests dare to approach the footstool of the Most High. All this the LORD has arranged in his providence so that his servant David might be blessed and remembered. Indeed, the Son of David, King Solomon is now the anointed one of God. He offers the petitions of the people and the LORD does not reject his plea. It is during the seventh month that the elders and priests carried the ark into the sanctuary, and the LORD’s glory filled the temple. It is the compassion of the Christ and his glory that attracts all the attention of the people and their petitions. As soon as he comes into a village they bring all their sick on mats before the Lord Jesus. He always heals. Today, we bring him our wounded and helpless selves and he touches us with divine love and faithful healing. We have nothing to fear even as the cloud of glory surrounds us with darkness.
There was boundless joy among the people. They could not even count the number of sacrificial offerings that were made. So boundless their love! The priests brought the Ark of the Covenant and the tent around it into the new dwelling place that King Solomon had erected after the command of his father, David. King David had wanted to build a temple, but he was too tainted with the blood of his enemies. Solomon was at peace with all the enemies of Israel because of the diplomatic and military activity of King David; King Solomon was at peace on all his borders. Now the people could rejoice in the faithful love of the LORD. They could dance and sing before the Ark of the Covenant that was filled with the two stone tablets from the Mountain of the LORD and in this sacred simplicity, in this holy emptiness, the God of Israel made know his abundant presence, here his glory appeared. The priests and the people offered countless sacrifices, but it was the LORD himself who filled the ark and the whole temple with his cloud of glory. This is the same cloud that covered the sun in the transfiguration and in the crucifixion. Indeed, Solomon was able to interpret this darkness, even for us today. The cloud of glory keeps us safe when the LORD is near. His bright glory is no longer dangerous because his glory was “given up” in the incarnation of the Eternal and Beloved Son of the Father. Likewise the Holy Spirit covers us with glory so that we can be in his presence and come to know his will for us! This is what the cloud does; guiding us on our journey in the day, and it becomes a column of fire in the night. In both darkness and light, we continue the journey forward, always forward, and everywhere forward!
The disciples are still clueless. They had witnessed great signs and wonders, but they still did not understand this Master. The people, the crowds, however know who the Lord Jesus is; they know that he is kind and full of love. They immediately recognize him and scurry about to bring in the sick on mats to find him and his healing power. No matter where he went clamoring crowds and all the sick they could find surrounded the Lord Jesus. They only begged to touch the tassel on his cloak. Such a brief touch would be enough for complete healing. Such excitement had not filled the land since the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the Temple Solomon built. Do we dare to have such enthusiasm for the arrival and abiding presence of the Lord Jesus? What will we do when he reveals the true nature of his mission? How will we respond to the mystery of the cross that the Lord Jesus brings into our lives? Can we bear the darkness of the cross as well as the brightness of the healing? Perhaps we will remain as clueless as the first disciples—not quite able to grasp or be grasped by the cross. This is the same cross with which we signed ourselves at the beginning of this mass, and with which we will sign ourselves with at the final blessing.