When I served as a deacon at St. Bonaventure Parish in Columbus, Nebraska, I was given many opportunities to visit the various parish churches that served the needs of the faithful in Platte County and beyond. On one particular occasion, I was driving through a small town just north and west of Columbus when I happened upon an absolutely huge gothic style church. It was so large that I couldn’t imagine it ever being filled as the population of the town was relatively small. Upon further inquiry, I learned that the Church had been built not only by the townspeople but by the many farmers who also lived in the area. Someone told me that the people regarded the church as a “monument” of their faith and could not conceive of building anything smaller as their faith was so great.
Today’s first reading is taken from the passage about the consecration of the Temple of Solomon. Though the temple was destroyed by the Assyrians years later, the various passages about the temple in the Scriptures reveal that it too was a monument to the faith of Solomon and his people. It was regarded as one of the most beautiful buildings of that time.
Psalm 84, which is used as the response to this reading, was written for the pilgrims who came to the Temple from the surrounding countryside for the Feast of Tabernacles, celebrated as the first rains of the year watered the farm land surrounding Jerusalem. This psalm reveals the faith of those people.
There are many great churches in Christendom. All of them are testaments and monuments to the faith of the people who were instrumental in building them. Solomon’s prayer as the Temple is consecrated reveals his personal faith and also his concern for his people as he prays that God will hear the prayers of the people who bring their petitions to the Temple.
Each day as we pray the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours, we include our personal intentions as well as the needs of the people with whom we live. God still answers the prayers of the People of God. We join with Solomon today in asking God to hear our prayer.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator