Surely the Presence of the Lord Is in This Place
Homily for Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
As I prayed with the first reading for today’s mass from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, I immediately turned my thoughts to the lyrics of a very familiar hymn, written by Andrea Holloman. The refrain of the hymn is, I am sure, familiar to you as well: “Surely, the presence of the Lord is in this place…”
Chapters forty-three through forty-six of Ezekiel are a commentary on the reestablishment of the Temple in Jerusalem. When the people of Israel returned from their exile in Babylon, they returned to the ruins of the Temple of Solomon. As the Assyrians neared Jerusalem, the glory of the Lord, which was present as a cloud in the Holy of Holies, was seen to exit the Temple. Ezekiel spoke of that in chapter three. He is relating this story to the exiles as they gathered together at the River Chebar. He is reminding the children of Israel that God has promised to restore them and the Holy City. He clearly announces that God intends to dwell with his people.
Our own belief that God dwells with us is solidified in the mystery of the incarnation. This mystery continues to unfold in our lives through our meditation and contemplation of this presence. Jesus has taught us that our heavenly Father and he had poured out the Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Each time we visit the chapel, each time we celebrate the Eucharist, each time we open the Word of the Lord, and each time we gaze into the face of our brothers and sisters with charity, this mystery becomes more and more a present reality for us. Just as Ezekiel raised the morale of his brothers and sisters in exile, we continue to make the presence of God in our midst more palpable by our actions and prayers.
In the first verse of Andrea Holloman’s familiar hymn, she wrote: “In the midst of His children the Lord said He would be…” This promise is fulfilled over and over again at the altar, in the tabernacle, and in the charity we express through our lives.