The Readings (For an analytical imagination, critical evaluation, and thinking)
1 Kings 8:1-7,9-13
The crowning glory of Solomon’s reign was this dedication of the Temple. David had brought up to Jerusalem the Ark of the covenant, the symbol of God’s presence among His people. But, as he was "a man of blood" he had not been allowed to build the Temple, only to purchase the land for it, and the glory fell to Solomon. The dedication was a magnificent occasion, as the ark was brought up from the old part of the city, where it has rested since David brought it up from Kiriath-Jearim, accompanied by the whole people and the developed priesthood, and the Lord showed His presence by the impenetrable Divine cloud. Solomon’s speech of gratitude to the Lord is a touching piece of praise for the favour shown to himself and his father. It must, however, be admitted that, just as David built himself a fine palace of cedar before even suggesting that he should build a house for the Lord, so Solomon spent thirteen years building his own palace before turning to the building of a Temple (7:1). The centrepiece of his palace, the Hall of the Forest of Lebanon, alone was 44m long by 22m wide by 13m high. This was only the largest of three great halls. By itself it would have dwarfed the Temple, of which the overall dimensions were 26m long by 9m wide by 11m high; it took a mere seven years to build.
Furthermore, these magnificent building operations in Jerusalem held the seed of the destruction of the united monarchy of Israel and Judah, after barely a generation of union. Much of the materials and much of the skilled workmanship was provided by Hiram, King of Tyre, and cost Solomon dearly, not only in money and land ceded to Hiram but, more important, in terms of the conscripted labour required for the less skilled building jobs. This was supplied by revolving teams from the northern part of the country, and their resentment of the forced labour, embellishing a city not felt to be their own, would play an important part in the break-up of the kingdom after Solomon’s death.
This short reading sums up the activity of Jesus in the first part of His ministry in Galilee. He is recognised everywhere as a healer to whom they can bring their sick; the immediate enthusiasm of the crowds is palpable. This passage will lead on to the confrontation with and Jesus’ dissatisfaction with Pharisaic understanding of what it means to be God’s People. After that He will begin His wider ministry to the gentiles. The mention of touching "even the fringe of His tunic" has been taken to show that Jesus wore the tassels now characteristic of Jewish prayer-shawls; this would be evidence of Jesus’ Pharisaic piety. However, the plural occurs only once in the Gospels, specifically referring to Pharisaic clothing (Matthew 23:5). More probably it here means "hem": even the furthest extremity of His garments would suffice for contact with the healing holiness of Jesus.
This is indeed about Recognizing Jesus, Who He is. Mark states that Jesus and the disciples landed at Gennesaret on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee (also known as the Lake of Gennesaret). It could well be that Jesus had previously passed through this area while travelling between Nazareth (twenty miles or so to the southwest) and Capernaum (a few miles further along the shoreline to the north). Still, this is the first mention of Gennesaret in Mark. What happens after they step ashore? “People immediately recognized [Jesus]” (Mark 6:53-54). How did they recognize him? Had he walked a few yards on the water while getting to shore? Had they seen pictures of him posted in the marketplace? Or is the scene more like that in Mark 1:16-20 when Jesus called Simon, Andrew, James, and John? Without any apparent previous knowledge of Jesus, they left everything immediately and followed him. What had they recognized in Jesus? It is remarkable that none of the Gospels provide a physical description of Jesus. We will never be able to pin Him down by virtue of His appearance. Rather, we will always have to recognize Jesus for Who He is and what He does. It is more than the miracles and healings Jesus performed or the things He taught. It may actually take the gift of faith to recognize the one Who died on the Cross as the Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world.
Our loving and providential God, You're great and Almighty. May the aura of Your presence and direction overwhelm us for a fruitful endeavours today and always.
Thank You God for hearing us, through Christ our Lord; Amen.
Rev. Fr. Affusim, Matthew-Mary Chizoba SHL (of the Holy Cross of Jesus).