The Glory of the Lord is Among Us!

When I was ordained a Deacon, I was assigned to one of the largest parishes in the Archdiocese of Newark. In this parish, I worked together with priests who had a lot of zeal and a sincere love for the people. I learned a lot from them! One of these priests was eventually sent to another parish as a pastor. I was sure he was going to do a great job in that place.

The parish he was sent to did not have a rectory close to the Church building. Indeed, the house where the parish office was and where the previous pastor lived, was a mile away from the worship site. One of the first things my priest friend did when he arrived at his new parish was to start the process of having a rectory close to the Church. To be sure, he did not have to do that, since the parish had operated like that for years. However, he felt the need to be close to his parishioners, and to be present for them in a more visible and effective way. It goes without saying that his parishioners love him for that!

God’s Desire to be Close to Us

I believe that, in the same way, God has always manifested His desire to be close to us. God’s presence permeates all that exists. Indeed, the very existence of everything that has been created, especially our own existence, gives witness to the closeness of God to us. However, God decided to make it very clear that not only He wants to be close to us, but that He really wants to dwell among us.

The first reading of today shows this when it describes how, once the Temple was built, God makes it his abode. The passage says that “the glory of God filled the house of the Lord.” Sure, the Temple was a majestic building, impressive for its size and its beauty. However, until the glory of God enters, it is just that: a building. It is only when the presence of God fills the Temple, that Solomon can say: “I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever.”

From this moment on, the Temple became the place par excellence where the people can go and be close to God. However, the Temple was but a figure and image to indicate God’s ultimate plan: to come Himself and to be present among us, to be close to us, not by being constrained within the walls of a man-made building, but by coming Himself, as a person to dwell among us, and to be close to us.

What Do They Recognize?

The Gospel of today shows this in a rather beautiful way. Jesus arrives to the shore of the lake of Gennesaret, and “immediately the people recognized him.” What do they recognize in him? The saving power of God. The presence of a God who has come to dwell among us. That is why they immediately bring the sick people and those who were afflicted by all kinds of ailments to his feet, for Him to cure them.

They know this is not just a man, traveling around and speaking and acting different from any other person, showing signs of a power that is not normally seen among men. And they saw beyond that. They were able to see that Jesus irradiated the glory of God, to the point of being content “to touch even the fringe of his garment,” knowing that that would be enough for them to be healed and to be made whole again. In other words, they know that, in Jesus Christ, God is among us, and they want to be close to Him, to be cured and saved.

In the Sacraments

What about us? Where can we experience a closeness to the Lord and to His glory? Certainly, we can go to any Church, and pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and experience the glory of God. Jesus Christ, present in the Eucharist, resting in the tabernacle of any Church, allows us to experience what the people of Israel experienced, when they saw the glory of God entering the Temple. In like manner, we can experience the healing presence of the glory of God in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and the sacrament of reconciliation. In both sacraments we can experience the healing presence of God, just like the people in the gospel. Receiving Christ’s body and blood, we can be nurtured in the faith that allows to touch, not just the fringe of the garment of Jesus, but his very body, blood, soul, and divinity. In the sacrament of reconciliation, we can see our worse sickness, which is our sin, cured by the powerful presence of Christ.

Finally, we can experience a special closeness to God, and be certain that He dwells among us, in the community. A community of brothers and sisters, united by the Word of God, sustained in the faith by the presence of God in the liturgy, and sharing in the communion that the Lord creates amongst them, is an image of the new and true Temple, where God has wanted to dwell, and to be present among us.

Let us, then, be assured in our faith, encouraged by the message of these readings, which demonstrate that the glory of God is truly among us!

[Readings: 1 Kgs 8:1-7, 9-13; MK 6:53-56]

Fr. Justino Cornejo

Fr. Justino Cornejo, Ph.D., is a missionary priest, originally from Panama City, Panama. Answering a call from the Lord, he left home in 1996, to start his priestly formation at the Redemptoris Mater missionary Seminary of Newark, NJ. He was ordained in 2005. He received an M.A. in Theology from Seton Hall University, and, eventually, he completed his Doctoral studies, at Liverpool Hope University. Fr. Cornejo enjoys reading and playing sports. He resides at the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Newark, where serves as a Spiritual Director. He also helps the Itinerant Team of Catechists responsible for the Neo-Catechumenal Way in Connecticut.

Leave a Comment