Thursday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Of all the images used to describe and praise the sanctuary and altar in today’s Psalm, one stands out—home. The author says that “the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest” and goes on to declare this nest to be “the altar of the Lord.” We think of the altar in many ways, but not usually as home. But home is the place where we are safest, where we are given life and can see the next generation given life as well. Through the Eucharist consecrated on the altar, Jesus is with us and keeps us safe, goes into our souls and gives them new life, and does the same when we bring our children up to the altar. The altar is as much a sign of home as dad’s comfortable chair.
And the altar is a foretaste of our new heavenly home. At the Mass, We are gathered around the altar, where God the Son is truly present, and celebrate His presence and goodness—as we will do in Heaven. In the British show Blackadder, the title character once remarked that “the thing about Heaven is that Heaven is for people who like the sort of things that go on in Heaven.” And Heaven is for people who could find themselves at home in Heaven. Here on Earth, we are given the opportunity to begin to feel at home in Heaven by feeling at home around the altar. Now we can take that opportunity to feel at home around the altar in this world, so that we can feel at home in Heaven in the next.