Monday, July 10, 2017

I had a discussion recently with a friend about holy places. That friend seemed to think that every spot on the planet is exactly the same as any other place. (click the link to read more)

July 10, 2017

GN 28:10-22A

PS 91:1-2, 3-4, 14-15AB

MT 9:18-26

I had a discussion recently with a friend about holy places.  That friend seemed to think that every spot on the planet is exactly the same as any other place.    That the place that we believe Jesus might have been born is worth no extra honor than the spot where we ourselves were born.  As a Catholic, I disagree, and not just because the Church and Sacred Scripture both tell us that a place can be holy, but also because of personal experience.   I’ve been to shrines, churches, and even retreat centers that were different.  You could feel the presence of Christ there in a way that it’s not just everywhere.   That doesn’t mean he isn’t present everywhere, but it does mean that he is present in different ways. 

Jacob built a shrine at the spot where he had the vision known as Jacob’s ladder.   He realized that this was a special place, and eventually it became known as the shrine of Bethel.   The image in his mind showed him that he was close to God here, and it was treated as a special land for many years until it was destroyed sometime around the Roman occupation in Jesus time.  He was so moved by the presence of God that he declared that if God protected him, then he would begin to worship God and God alone.   Those experiences aren’t common.   Not everyone has an astounding vision or hears a voice.  The thing is God is speaking to all of us though.   In the silence of our hearts, in the happenings of our days, if we just take the time to listen. 

The ladder that Jacob saw was a precursor to Jesus Christ.   Jesus is the image of God, the place where angels will ascend and descend.   He is the connection to God that we have all been searching for.   It is in the Sacraments that each and every one of us can encounter God, and that is why we Catholics hold the Sanctuary to be a special place.   It’s not that Jesus isn’t with us when we leave, but he is there in a special and substantial way in the Eucharist that should be reverenced and adored.   That’s why we don’t make a lot of noise, we genuflect, we pray on our knees.    It’s because Christ is there.   Then we receive Him and go out into the world to share him with others. 

How do we do that though?   By first off realizing that He is with us in every place.  That His sacramental presence means that everything we do must be Holy.   The actions we do, the things we say, where we go and what we watch... They all must be something that we would do with Him right there with us because he is.   It also means that like the event recorded in the Gospel today, we are to be healers.   We reach out into the crowd for the marginalized, the oppressed, the downtrodden.   We get them back on their feet and to good health.   We extend our hand to those in sin and help them rise up to life in Christ.  Are we doing that?   Would we put God’s name on the movies we watch?   The way we drive?   The people we hang out with and the discussion we have?   All things to meditate on today as we continue through Ordinary Time. 

His servant and yours,
Brian Mullins

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. - Psalm 19:14