holy ground

Walking On Holy Ground

For the third Sunday of Lent, the first reading proclaims the story of Moses encountering God in the burning bush. At first, Moses can’t make sense of what he’s seeing: a bush on fire but not being consumed by the flames. As he approaches, the voice of God cries out, and tells Moses to remove his sandals, for he is on holy ground.

Holy ground. A sacred place. The place where God is. Have you encountered that?

Every time we walk into a Catholic church, we are on holy ground. It is holy for one reason and one only: God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – resides there.

At every Mass, every day, around the world, Jesus is present in the Eucharist: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. He is just as present at Mass as He is in Heaven. (Don’t try to wrap your head around that; it’s a mystery.) And since – in most churches – Jesus’ Body is kept in reserve in the tabernacle, Jesus is always there.

2,000 years ago, Jesus walked among the Jewish people. He taught and preached. He worked alongside his foster father, Joseph. He laughed and wept with his friends. He suffered and died. He conquered death. And every time we enter the doors of a Catholic church, Jesus is just as present there as He was on earth, 2.000 years ago. We truly are on holy ground.

That means we need to take care of how we enter, occupy and take leave of a Catholic church. When we enter, we bless ourselves with holy water and the sign of the cross. This reminds us of our baptism. We approach the altar with reverence, and genuflect towards the tabernacle (that is where Christ’s Body resides.) If the tabernacle is in a separate chapel, then we express our reverence by bowing towards the altar itself. We do the same when we leave. In between, we are reverent, respectful of God’s presence.

As we continue through the season of Lent, let us resolve to be mindful of the sacredness of our parish church, however humble or grand that building might be. It is holy ground.