Today we celebrate something just for our parish:
the anniversary of the dedication of this church.
That’s not the same as the anniversary of the parish:
Our parish was founded on July 3, 1855.
But on October 26, in 1865, this building,
was consecrated the first time for Catholic worship.
Of course, just a year ago,
to commemorate 150 years as a parish,
the Archbishop consecrated a new altar—here.
So, today, we particularly celebrate this building.
That first reading:
King Solomon and all the people,
dedicating his Temple. Quite a scene, wasn’t it?
Trumpeters and singers,
the building was “filled with a cloud”—
I did my best with the incense!
But did you notice
what was the center of the celebration?
The “Ark of the Covenant”—
all in gold, carried by priests,
brought to the Holy of Holies,
and placed behind a curtain.
Did you notice what was in that ark?
“Nothing was in it but the two tablets
Moses put there on Horeb”—that is, Sinai!
The tablets of the Ten Commandments. That’s it.
You realize, as impressive as that was,
you and I have something far greater
than Solomon’s Temple.
Our parish church is, I think, beautiful.
We could—and perhaps in time, we will—
make it even moreso.
As you know, next weekend, we’ll have a dinner
to raise money for painting the gym—
and whatever we have left over after that,
we’ll spend repairing the exterior of our church.
So—I hope everyone here will come
to that dinner—it’s only $10, less for children,
and it’s not even about the money—
we even have free tickets too!
It’s also about our being together as a parish.
In years to come, you and I will make our church
even more beautiful.
I have ideas and dreams; and we’ll do it.
This is our home—it’s worth it!
But what makes this church so special—
far beyond Solomon’s Temple…
Is that the Ark of our Covenant is not empty!
The Lord God himself is HERE!
See our altar?
Solomon’s priests offered up sheep and oxen.
But here, you and I approach the true Mount Zion;
with countless angels in festal gathering.
Because here, together with all the saints in heaven,
we offer, not lambs and bulls,
but the very Son of God himself:
Jesus, the Lamb of God!
Jesus’ own Precious Blood is poured out here!
That never happened in Solomon’s Temple;
but it happens here, at every Mass!
If you think I’m claiming Heaven comes down here—
I am not speaking figuratively, or symbolically—
I mean it: Heaven literally and truly comes here
at each and every Mass!
We celebrate the dedication of a building,
because Heaven has made this building its outpost!
This is Heaven’s embassy, right here in Piqua!
You want to go to heaven?
This is as close as we can get—till we get there!
So we take our worship, our Mass, very seriously.
we give our full attention and participation;
we bring our very best.
Yes, Father lights up lots of candles,
and we smoke up the holy of holies!
When Rome, and the bishops, give us instructions
on the Mass, with attention to detail,
some will say, oh, you’re being too fussy.
But the Mass doesn’t just belong to us, here;
but to the whole Church—
around the world, and in heaven too!
See, there’s something else going on.
God is here;
and here God’s people come to be united with him.
So we really can’t fully understand it.
Our best hope is to surrender to it.
That’s what worship really means.
We don’t tinker with the Mass
to make it fit our expectations;
we pray the Mass reshapes us,
to fit Heaven’s expectations!
Our hour each week aims to make us ready
to be in heaven forever!
What could be more important?
So we don’t bring anything second-rate—
only our best.
For various reasons,
we can’t always help what we wear;
but when we can—why not wear our very best?
Don’t hold back your talents:
read or help at Mass, join our choir!
Well, of course, we know, even our best
can only reach so high.
and we will never reach heaven on our own.
The Good News is, Jesus comes here, too—
and he does bring his very best!
His best—to the altar; his best—in the tabernacle;
and his best, in each of our hearts!
He gives us the Holy Spirit!
It’s his Holy Spirit that makes that, not bread,
but truly God, in the tabernacle.
It’s his Spirit
that makes what happens at the altar,
not play-acting, not mere ritual,
but truly the Cross of Calvary
made real in our midst!
And it is his Holy Spirit that makes this building
more than just bricks and mortar,
but truly a Holy of Holies,
an embassy of Heaven on earth!
All that—for just one more miracle,
the greatest of all.
Not the transformation of a building;
not even the transubstantiation of bread and wine;
but the changing of people!
You and I, mere mortals,
you and I, pilgrim people,
still on our journey,
still in the process of being changed.
Now, we come, for a brief time, to be in heaven.
We ache to have enough faith to believe it.
We don’t see angels, but we know they’re here.
But one day, it will be finally true!
Not for an hour, not for a day, but forever!
The Holy Spirit’s greatest work
will be complete:
changing us into the Body of Christ,
the heavenly Jerusalem,
the true Temple, where God abides forever.