Memorial of Saint Scholastica
February 10, 2020
Today, in Mercy, we read about the massive celebration to dedicate Solomon’s Temple. It would have been a ceremony akin to the parades we view in movies like Ben Hur.
This video gives us a good understanding of the magnificence of the building.
Praying with the passage today, core questions repeat themselves to me:
- Can God be in a building?
- Is there a legitimate spiritual purpose to the cathedrals, large or small, that we build?
For me, the answer is a fluid one. Certainly, beautiful churches inspire our faith and serve as a central symbol for the unity of believers.
But throughout history, these buildings have also symbolized individual and national power, pride and greed.
A recent initiative of Pope Francis converted a 19th century palace behind the Vatican into a homeless shelter. The Pope directed this rather than the site’s upgrade to a luxurious hotel.
The building is described as having “carved wooden ceilings, frescoed walls and tiled floors — evidence of its aristocratic origins.” Sharing a meal with its first residents, Pope Francis said, “Beauty heals”.
Such healing is the real purpose of all such buildings – that their beauty heal hearts, communities, and nations. Where the purpose is lost, excess eviscerates the healing beauty.
At points in the Gospel, Jesus refers to himself as the Temple – instructing his disciples that God’s Presence now dwells in the world through him. Today’s Gospel shows us how this Presence manifests itself – through the power of compassion and justice for the poor:
Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered,
they laid the sick in the marketplaces
and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak;
and as many as touched it were healed.
Where God is present there is always healing. May it be so in our churches and in our hearts.
Music: Dwelling Place – John Foley