Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the ancestral houses of the Israelites, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. All the people of Israel assembled to King Solomon at the festival in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month. And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests carried the ark. So they brought up the ark of the Lord, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the priests and the Levites brought them up.
King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered. Then the priests brought the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. For the cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering above the ark and its poles.
There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone that Moses had placed there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites, when they came out of the land of Egypt. And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.
Then Solomon said, "The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever."
When they had crossed over the lake, Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
The temple in Jerusalem was considered a mirror of God's heavenly home, a reflection of the Lord's presence throughout the universe, the place where God is worshipped, above all by his chosen people. The reading from Mark speaks about the everyday world, where our bodies feel aches and pains and search for healing. The text from First Kings is about the symbolic power of the temple. Symbol does not mean untrue but signifies a deeper meaning within the real and is a means enabling us to savour the mystery of God's presence in the "real" world round about us.
Even the sacred ceremonies of the sanctuary , whether in the Jerusalem temple or the central area of our churches with eucharistic table and tabernacle, become empty if they lose contact with the physical world of earth and sky or if they are no longer vivid reminders of God's redemptive power healing us in our sickness, forgiving us in our weakness, inspiring us with hope. At the same time, without sanctuaries and church liturgy we can lose sight of the mysterious presence of God in our universe and in our daily living in this world.
This morning's gospel conveys a sense of the great popularity of Jesus among the ordinary people of Galilee. In particular, it was the sick and broken that he attracted, because God's healing power was at work through him. People begged him to let him touch even the fringe of his cloak, as the woman had done who was healed of her flow of blood. The gospel says that people were hurrying to bring the sick to him. The broken and needy, especially, were desperate to get to him and to connect with him.
In our own lives it is in times of need that we seek out the Lord with the greatest urgency. Something happens to us that brings home to us our vulnerability, our weakness, our inability to manage. In those situations, when we come face to face with our limitations, we can seek out the Lord with a greater energy and an urgency we don't normally show. It is those experiences, where we come face to face with our frailties, that bring home to us our need of the Lord and our dependence on him. It is often the darker and more painful experiences of life that open us up to the Lord. [MH]