Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Lord Fills Our Dwelling

Thursday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
By Beth DeCristofaro
It was Moses who erected the Dwelling.  He placed its pedestals, set up its boards, put in its bars, and set up its columns.  He spread the tent over the Dwelling and put the covering on top of the tent, as the LORD had commanded him. … Then the cloud covered the meeting tent, and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling. (Exodus 40:18-20, 34)
And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”  When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there.  (Matthew 13:51-53)
Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures – I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul: I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.  (Charles de Foucauld)
On parish a mission trip my teen daughter’s team rebuilt an elderly woman’s home, repairing holes in her floor, replacing a disabled toilet and putting on a new roof.  My talents however do not lie with building anything although I assembled a pretty impressive desk from Ikea all by myself.  That the file drawer only opens 2/3 of the way is a design element, I tell myself, so that nothing falls out. 
Moses’ determination in building the Dwelling moves me.  It’s complicated, precise and effort-laden.  And it has to be portable!  When God signals, the Dwelling is taken down, carted to a new encampment and built again.  It is a labor of faith, hope and indeed love.  God’s presence is not contained however.  Divinity is infinitely bigger than the Dwelling.  Moses offers space for God to abide.
The building of our own spiritual dwelling place is not unlike Moses’ efforts.  We begin with our baptismal invitation and the gift of faith.  We cannot control but we can assent.  Grace nourishes us when the hard work of spiritual awareness, cleansing and self-denial become difficult.  The wings of the Spirit hold us up as we say “yes” again and again to life in Christ.  And our spiritual self is portable too; through good times and bad the presence of God, in the promise of Jesus, resides in us.  If we neglect our Dwelling, we lose our way much as the Israelites wandered as they resorted to golden idols. 
My daughter experienced something much bigger than outcomes as she felt the love and gratitude of the homeowner.  The elderly woman delighted in having young people around to share her day as much as their repairs to her house.  The Israelites saw something much bigger than they in the cloud and fire of God.  Jesus points to something much bigger, the new and the old, which is the spiritual legacy of His ancestors in faith and His own Word now offered to all.  He retreated to something bigger, going apart, in order to be in God’s presence so that He could proclaim these mysteries.  Are we aware and astounded that divinity is present within if we but take the time to build a holy and welcoming space for it?  What holds us back in welcoming God to fill our dwelling?

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