The following is the text of Bishop Jaime Soto's homily from Thursday, Aug. 3, during the Mass he offered at the end of the catechesis that day. The homily is based on the readings of the day and reflects the themes proposed by the Holy Father for World Youth Day. Bishop Soto took the photo above at sunrise in Lisbon.
In responsorial psalm — Psalm 84 — we heard the psalmist exclaim, “Blessed they who dwell in your house! Continually they praise you.” The first reading today from the Book of Exodus spoke about the temple of the Lord being a tent. Before King Solomon built the great temple in Jerusalem, in the times of Moses and the Exodus, the holy temple was a tent that traveled with the chosen people in their journey through the desert to the promised land. The reading from Exodus describes the awesome presence of God in this meeting tent. God’s almighty presence was revealed as a cloud that rumbled by day and a fiery cloud that glowed by night. In this way, Moses and the people knew of the nearness of God. He dwelt among them, watched over them, fed them, and protected them.
Jesus revealed the presence of God in an even more personal way. In the Gospel accounts, he often identified himself with the temple. Through his humanity Jesus revealed the glory of his divine presence. In Jesus, Divine Mercy took on a human face. By his sacrifice on the cross, Jesus was temple, priest, and victim. In Jesus we discover “How truly lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord, mighty God!” Jesus invited his disciples to become living stones in the temple that is his body.
In the Eucharist, Jesus, the living God, comes to us. With the words, “You are my friends,” He receives us. We receive him with humble repentance and trembling; He enters us with mercy and joy saying, “You are my friends.” He enters our humanity so that we can enter his divinity. Where Moses feared to enter because of God’s awesome presence, Jesus invites us to dwell with him, to remain with him. The psalmist yearned and pined for the courts of God. His heart and flesh cried out for the living God. Through the veil of the Eucharist, we enter into the courts of God. Jesus takes us into the chambers of his most Sacred Heart.
Jesus enters our souls and allows us to enter into the holy of holies, his most sacred heart. We become living stones in his holy temple. We become the temple of his glory. In the first reading, the meeting tent stood as a sign of God’s glorious presence. Through Jesus we enter into the temple and become the holy temple of the Lord’s mercy and glory in the world.
So that this glory can be revealed, we open the doors of our hearts to others as Jesus has opened his to us on the cross. Jesus gives friendship a new meaning and a new horizon. Friendships binds us to one another so that together in Christ we become the dwelling place of God’s glory. Jesus calls us his friends and so binds us to him in a bond that can never be broken. We can bring others to know the friendship of Jesus by opening our hearts in friendship to others. We reveal the glory of Jesus through charity, wisdom, and joy.
The charity of patient listening, the charity of forgiveness, the charity of generosity, the charity of hospitality — these as well as other ways offer charity in a personal way and make God’s glory known. Following Jesus, we can give God’s mercy a human face.
Humility is the first step on the path to wisdom. Such wisdom, Paul says, always considers others more important than ourselves (cf. Phil 2:3). This sense of wisdom makes friendship a great gift. Wisdom also looks beyond the horizons of this world and sees the dawning of the Kingdom. Jesus in the gospel today, spoke of the scribes who have been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven. As friends of Jesus, we know that there is more to come. We do not have to conform ourselves to this age. Practicing humility, we know ourselves as earthen vessels. Patient hope in God’s kingdom-to-come fills us with a glory that is of God and not our own, a timeless wisdom, ancient yet always new.
Joy is defined as possessing what one loves. When Jesus choosing us as his friends, he also told us that he wanted to make our joy complete. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” (Jn 15:11) In the Eucharist, Jesus gives himself completely to us so that our joy may be complete. Authentic friendship will always seek to share the joy of Christ with others. We have no greater gift to give one another that the friendship of Christ. Because he himself told us, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15:13)
In the Eucharist, Jesus is the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. He is the good friend who laid down his life for his friends. He reveals the glory of his friendship with generous charity, amazing wisdom and unending joy. The first reading today described the early temple as a meeting tent. The Eucharist is our meeting tent, where we are brought together as the friends of the Lord Jesus. United by the blood of Christ poured out for his friends, let us reflect the glory of the Lord in our world.
The Blessed Mother told the servants at the Wedding Feast of Cana: “Do whatever he tells you.” She is here with us with same wise, maternal counsel. By the word and example of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus, our good friend invites us with charity, wisdom and joy, “As I have done so you should also do.” (Jn 13:15)