10 February, 2016

Ordinary Time 5 – Tuesday Year II – 1Kings 8: 22-23, 27-30

1Kings 8: 22-23, 27-30

In today’s first reading we hear part of the prayer that King Solomon made at the consecration of the first Temple at Jerusalem. Here Solomon takes on a priestly role as he stands to plead before the altar and in front of the people gathered there. There are two significant points in this reading that are of relevance for us as well concerning the way we worship.

First, Solomon says to the Lord, ‘watch over this house, over this place of which you have said, “My name shall be there.”’ There was a belief among the Jewish people that God, although dwelling in heaven, was present in a particular and real way within the temple. God himself promised, “My name shall be there” meaning that God’s name, his essence, would inhabit that holy place unlike anywhere else in creation. This belief was carried on by the Church in a new and even greater way as from the earliest times the Eucharist has been kept within church buildings – here the presence of God continues to be assured not through the Arc of the Covenant but in the very substance of Jesus’ Body and Blood.

Secondly, we should note something about the orientation of both the people and of the king whilst at prayer; they all turn towards the altar and towards the holiest part of Temple as a single body gathered to plead and to worship before the presence of God. This corporate orientation during worship, although challenged by many in the last decades, has also been kept alive by the Church, as for many centuries Christians have celebrated Mass facing East together; oriented, both priests and people, towards the presence Jesus on the altar, and towards the dawn, symbol of our waiting in expectation for the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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