Daily Reflection
February 7th, 2000
John O'Keefe
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1 Kings 8:1-7, 9-13
Psalms 132:6-10
Mark 6:53-56

Today it is perhaps the psalmist who offers us the key to understanding the meaning that emerges from Mark in the light of Kings.  “Let us enter,” the author writes, “into his dwelling; let us worship at his footstool.” 

My attention is drawn by the exhortation “enter.”  Indeed, each text, in its own way, describes an encounter with God, a kind of “entering” in to divine presence and being confronted with God’s power.  The community described in the book of Kings gathers around the holy of holies, and, because of the power of the arc of the covenant, that holy place becomes holier; God’s words, which are nothing less than his promise, dwell there.  And then the place is filled with a cloud in which the Lord comes to abide.  God’s presence is so “awe-full” that priests can longer minister in its vicinity.  Perhaps it is to this presence that the psalmist later refers when he writes, “Advance, O Lord, to your resting place, you and the ark of your majesty.”  And so, in this short reading from Kings, we vicariously enter into awareness of the mysterious and “clouded” majesty of God.

In contrast to this stands the strikingly different passage from Mark:  it is a healing story.  Yet, it is also a story of encounter with the power of God.  The people recognize the power of Jesus “immediately” and rush to him for healing.  Indeed, on that day “all who touched him got well.”  Unlike the priests of Kings whose ministry is displaced by the power of God, the people described in Mark’s gospel are ministered to and healed by that power.  In the language of Catholic theology, the unbridled power of God the Father has, in the person of the Son, become something we can touch. 

No wonder the psalmist writes, “let your faithful ones shout merrily for joy.”

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