Homily – Fr. James Conner – 10/3/21 – ALL of creation and ALL of humanity are Places of Prayer.

Dedication of Archdiocesan Assumption Cathedral

Today’s feast coincides with our Rule of Benedict, as we heard in chapter this morning. Both highlight the words of Jesus: “My Father’s house is a house of prayer”. But do these words apply only to the Church proper. Do they not apply equally to the whole of creation? When God finished creation on the seventh day, Scripture tells us that “God saw that it was VERY good”. It was very good because it was a manifestation of God Himself. Hence the whole of creation was intended to be a “place of prayer”.  Yet, as with the ancient temple. “we have made it a den of thieves”.

The Liturgy today tries to teach us anew what this House of God is and what all of creation is – and ultimately what we are ourselves.

In the second reading today, St Paul tells us bluntly “you are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you”. We frequently hear this statement, and yet we fail to grasp its full import. It tells us that our greatness is not something which WE create, but something which God Himself has created, and we can add nothing to that greatness by our supposed virtues. We are to present God only with our nothingness in order that He may make it to be the perfect reflection of God’s Holiness – not ours.

A holy hermit in Africa said: “What I want for you is that you reach the point where you feel that, rich as the spiritual life is in joys, there is none so deep as this one: to be happy to find weakness in  ourselves, to delight in our weaknesses, to delight in knowing that we are nothing, to delight that God alone is and that we are not.” It is this nothingness of ourselves which God can fill with Himself and make us to truly be “a place of prayer”. But He wants to make ALL of creation and ALL of humanity into this Place of Prayer. He wants us to realize that this is not a loss but a gain – for,  as the holy hermit again said: “to be filled with Christ, to cease to be only ourselves and to have become Christ, to exchange the human for the divine, would you call this a loss?”  On the contrary, it is the meaning of Creation fulfilled by the Incarnation. Christ desires to dwell in each of us . Yet there are not two Christs – yours and the Christ of others. There is ONE Christ who does not want to be repressed but to expand into all humanity.”

This is powerfully expressed in the Postcommunion  for this 27th Sunday of the Year: “Grant us, Almighty God, that we may be refreshed by the sacrament which we have received so as to be transformed into what we consume”.

Our nothingness is to be transformed into His divinity and thus truly form ONE CHRIST. This is why we celebrate our diocesan Cathedral . It is a symbol of every church in the diocese and ultimately of every person who form the One Christ to the Glory of God. But in order for this to be fulfilled we must follow the example of St John the Baptist who said: “He must increase and I must decrease”. And also the words of St Paul: “I live now, not I, but Christ living in me”. That Christ is to live in us not simply during the brief moments that the sacramental presence remains in us. Rather, He is to live in all of us as the FULL Christ, making us to be that House of Prayer, that dwelling place of God with humanity to the praise and glory of God the Father.