Homily by Fr Carlos on the anniversary of the Dedication of our Church, Nov. 15th.
In the Old Testament whenever there is a God-event, its leader would erect a pillar of stone in order to commemmorate the power, magnficencen and the care that God showed to them. Like Joshua who told the leaders of the 12 to pick up stones from the Jordan as they cross on their way to conquer the nations or Jacob who set up a pillar where he wrestled with God. Moses also instructed the people Israel “to set up large stones and covered them with lime to write all the words of the law.” It is the presence of God, with his power and glory, that hallowed the place and His great providence for Israel.
It was the beginning of , so to speak, locating the presence of an ubiquitous God.. Later on this God came down from the mountain and resided with them in tent to accompany them in their conquest of the land filled with milk and honey. And when it was done David built a temple because he thought that God deserves more than to live in a tent and that David lived in a palace. Gradually we see that the transcendent God who is everywhere and all powerful condescends to live among his people and made Himself accessible to His people. They worhsipped him not in any place in the desert but He can be found and addressed to in the temple. It is not so that from now on human beings can confine God but God chose to dwell in His house for human beings tend to forget easily. And so just like of old God in his goodness chose Gethsemani to be his temple , home and church where people may meet him in loving adoration and prayers. Once more He made himself accessible.
We are commemmorating the dedication of this church of Gethsemani humbly asking God to remain with us for we are his adopted children through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a proper home for his children with God as Father. There is a union in spirit unlike the temple where only designated priest
Can enter the holy of holies. In our church the holiness of God is shared among those who love and revere him. It is then a holy assembly and an assembly needs a holy temple to house them. This Church then is a reminder of what God has done for monks of Gethsemani. How they started humbly and in true poverty, trusting in the Lord, came here with very little financial source. The generosity of God came to them through the many people who helped them establish this monastery. The founding monks were like the Israel, exiles from the revolutionary storms that ravaged their country, France. They too were persecuted like Israel. So this church is the sign of God’s power and glory.
This building therefor is the locus of God’s presence, the place of the meeting of those who would speak with God, in knowledge and love of community united precisely by the love of God for them who brought them here. It is, as it were, a sacrament – an outward and visible sign of that gracious indwelling presence. God now resides in the building and more so in the temple of the hearts of those who worship him in love. Day by the day monks persevere in prayer, hallowing the hours of their days, giving thanks to the wonderful work of God – the redemption of the whole humankind. That is the monks concern to pray for the redemtpion of the world and they are joined who come here to pray with them. This feast is proper to the monks here at Gethsemani, for as St. Bernard said, if we do not keep it, if we do no celebrate it it will not be kept at all. Because the monks prefer nothing to God, they are made holy and therefore this house is blessed for their sanctified bodies in whom God dwells. This church is to make sure that holiness resides here. God is truly present here, all the more so, when everyday the Eucharist is celebrated and God is truly present among us. In this we did not make ourselves holy by our efforts but it is God’s presence that sanctifies us all. Let us pray that Gethsemani may always truly remain the house of God. A house of peace, silence and loving communication with God who is omnipresent but deigned to be immanent is us.