- The Abbey of the Genesee - http://www.geneseeabbey.org -

January 21, 2017

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO [1]

Anniversary of the Dedication Sacred Heart Cathedral, Rochester, NY
Ezekiel 43: 1 – 7ab; John 4: 19 – 24

The mystery of God is absolutely real and absolutely mysterious; as people of faith, we believe in God’s reality and mystery. We use human words to describe this mysterious reality like “infinite”, “immense”, “eternal, “everlasting” and yet these words like any of our words can hardly contain the mystery; at most they give us a hold, a thought, an idea, imperfect yet substantial.

Our God, in His mercy, has stooped down to our humanity and has made manifest His divine presence so that people, us, are not totally overwhelmed. He appeared to Moses in a burning bush; He called Solomon to build a magnificent Temple. The first Christians encountered God in their homes and later, the faithful were moved to build churches, basilicas and cathedrals, like the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Rochester, whose dedication we commemorate today.

The prophet Ezekiel is given the grace to see the mystery hidden yet most present in the Temple – the glory of God. He proclaims, “I saw that the temple was filled with the glory of the Lord” – and we can add, as is every temple of the Lord, as is our own temple.

In the last line of the reading the Lord proclaims His most personal presence  in all His glory – “This is where I will set the soles of My feet, here I will dwell among the children of Israel forever.” God speaks through Ezekiel in human terms for us to comprehend, an example of His mercy.

In the passage from the Gospel of St. John there is also a very personal note – 14 times the word “worship” appears. We know what the word means and that it marks our lives every day.  In the Greek text of this Gospel the word for worship has a very personal nuance lacking in the word “worship.” The Greek word is “proskuneo” – “pros” indicating a motion or movement and “kuneo” a verb meaning “to kiss” – what is more personal than a kiss?

In Sacred Heart Cathedral, here in our Abbey Church these two most personal, sacred realities embrace – the personal Presence of our God and our own personal presence in faith. We are people extravagantly blessed and extravagantly privileged. The last line of today’s preface underlines this:
“And so, with the countless ranks of the blessed, in the temple of Your glory we praise You, we bless You and proclaim Your greatness.”