“How dear to me is your dwelling, O Lord of hosts! My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God. (Psalm 84:1) This Sunday’s Psalm was written during a period of exile. It beautifully expresses the people of Israel’s deep yearning for worship in the Jerusalem Temple. The temple was the focal point of prayer, the place where God’s divine presence was said to reside. We can only imagine the pain of being exiled from one’s homeland, feeling separated from God and groping to find Him. Today, we also know what it is like to experience pain and to yearn deeply. We cannot face the challenges and emptiness of this world alone. But is the answer to be found simply in the Temple? In his prayer consecrating the Temple to God, Solomon who built it, said, “even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built.” (1Kings 8:27) The heart of human longings then and now, is less about the worship building, and more about our everyday interior space: our need for an intimate relationship with God. The Incarnate Son of God came to earth to both reveals and be the way that leads humanity to this deep relationship with God, enabling us to attain the fullness of life for which we were created.
In this Sunday’s Gospel (John 6:56-69), the final portion of the Bread of Life discourse, Jesus affirms, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.” The Father dwells in Jesus, and Jesus invites us to open our hearts for Him to dwell with us. The true dwelling place that God desires is our very being, in us and with us. Jesus’ words speak of realities far deeper than the nibbling of His earthly flesh. Jesus’ words speak of a spiritual union that deepens life and strengthens us even when faced with worldly struggles. Jesus says his words are “spirit and life”. This mystery can only be received by faith, as we believe in Christ, commune with Him in prayer, and partake of His nourishment in the Sacraments of the Word and Holy Communion. As our beings become God’s dwelling places, our lives, like Peter’s, proclaim the good news. Jesus is the Holy One of God, and His words are words of eternal life!