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Jodi Kochanski wrote:

Hi, guys —

It took me a long time to get even semi-comfortable in the Catholic Church because I come from such an anti-Catholic background.

I was finally comfortable but then I came across a Bible verse that is really tripping me up. It is a verse where Paul tells the people that:

"God doesn't dwell in temples made with human hands . . ."

Acts 7:48

I know Catholics believe that Jesus, who is God, lives in the tabernacle. I believed it too
until I read this verse in Acts.

  • How can it be that God doesn't dwell in temples made with human hands, but he lives in the tabernacles of Catholic Churches?

I want to be Catholic so bad but this verse is disturbing me.

Peace,

Jodi

  { If God doesn't dwell in temples made with human hands, how can he live Catholic tabernacles? }

Bob replied:

Jodi,

I imagine you are referring to St. Stephens speech in Acts 7:48.

The context of that phrase needs to be understood. Stephen is pointing out that the Jews lost sight of what even Solomon understood:

that God transcends all matter, buildings, and places. (cf. 1 Kings 8:27)

Our conception of God can become so parochial as to render Him a finite distortion of His True Essence. Centuries of religious devotion to the Temple led many Jews to have a false perception of God and an exaggerated emphasis on the sacredness of the building itself. (cf. the RSVCE, Study Edition, by Ignatius press).

What Stephen wanted them to see is that God was bigger than the temple worship they had gotten stuck on and He had much bigger plans for His Kingdom to go beyond the borders they understood: Jews alone. God was blowing the whole thing open.

So . . . .

We, as Catholics, only believe Christ is in the Tabernacle because we believe He is in the Eucharist. That is not to say that He doesn't dwell in the individual already, He does, but the Sacrament unites body and soul in a more profound covenantal way, otherwise Jesus wouldn't have bothered with it.

He gives us His Body and Blood in this Sacrament during the Mass. After celebrating the Mass, we usually have Sacred Leftovers or need to save some sacred hosts for the home bound. There needs to be a safe, sacred place to keep it, hence we us the tabernacle. It is a logical outgrowth of the liturgical circumstances and also becomes a place for reflection on This Great Self-Gift of Christ Himself.

That said, here is the crux of the matter: The tabernacle doesn't exist to replace God's desire to dwell in the individual but rather because He wants to do it even more, deeply: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

So don't think substitution, but super enhancement. The Tabernacle is a sign of that incredible gift of God's Own Self to us in the living bread that came down from Heaven.

Read John 6 again and ponder the mystery of the Eucharist.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

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