Mt. Zion

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/09/29 at 12:00 AM

Just outside of the old walled city of Jerusalem is Mt. Zion, a place of tremendous significance to Jews and Christians alike. Historically Mt. Zion signified an old Jebusite fortress just to the southeast of the current city walls of Jerusalem that King David conquered, and afterwards Mt. Zion came to designate not only that fortress, but the City of David as well (cf. 1 Kings 8:1). However, over time the geographic designation for Zion has moved around a bit, and its significance has expanded in meaning. When David’s son, Solomon, built the Temple, Mt. Zion came to signify the Temple and its surrounding environs – what we typically call now the Temple Mount (cf. Ps 2:6, 132: 13-14) – which is a little to the north of the City of David.

Eventually Zion came to be used interchangeably with the city of Jerusalem (cf. Is 40:9) as well as with the whole Israelite people (cf. Zech 9:13). So to both Jew and Christian alike, Mt. Zion is more than a geographic location. It is also a spiritual ideal for which the faithful soul hopes and longs. In its most important sense, Mt. Zion refers to the City of God, the New and Heavenly Jerusalem – the place we all hope to see one day (cf. Hebrews 12:22, Rev 14:1). Of course we all hope to see Mt. Zion, the New and Heavenly Jerusalem, some day because to do so is to see God Himself – Who is the fulfillment of all our hopes and desires, and the end for which all men have been created. Indeed Psalm 48 refers to Mt. Zion as the “true pole of the earth, the Great King’s city”; it is here that God dwells amongst its citadels. So for both Jews and Christians, Mt. Zion is the place of meeting and encountering our Lord.

Today in modern Jerusalem the geographic Mt. Zion is the place of King David’s tomb as well as the location of the Upper Room, which for us Catholics is one of the holiest and important sites in the world. In the Upper Room our Lord instituted the Eucharist and Holy Orders at the Last Supper. It was in the Upper Room that He appeared to the apostles after His resurrection to commission them and to institute the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And of course after our Lord’s ascension into Heaven, it was in the Upper Room that Our Lady and the apostles experienced the power of Pentecost, which gave birth to the Church. Thus Mt. Zion is a place of powerful and life-giving encounters with our Lord.

Most interesting, though, amongst the sites of this holy mountain is an abbey of Benedictine monks that sits atop the modern-day Mt. Zion: Dormition Abbey, an abbey dedicated to Our Lady and themystery of her death and assumption, body and soul, into Heaven. It is believed by many that Dormition Abbey marks the place where Mary died. Whether or not thisis factual really doesn’t matter as much as the great symbol of faith we find in Our Lady’s ultimate encounter with our Lord in death being ascribed to this holy place.

As we begin this holy season of Advent, we are called as God’s people to prepare ourselves toencounter our Lord: both in His coming at the end of time, and more proximately in His coming as man in great mystery of the Incarnation. In our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah we hear about Zion, the Lord’s mountain, from which“shall go forth instruction and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” We are called to climb this mountain “to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may instruct us in Hisways, and we may walk in His paths.” We are called to do this with vigilance, with great preparation, “for at an hour [we] do not expect, theSon of Man will come.” And I submit to you today that the best preparation for our Lord’s coming is signified for us atop the modern-day Mt. Zion in that beautiful abbey basilica dedicated to Our Lady.

As Mt. Zion first referred to a fortress, it seems quite fitting to me that sitting atop Mt. Zion today is a building dedicated to the greatest fortress of the Lord: His Immaculate Mother. Truly, He whom the world cannot contain, confined Himself to the womb of the pure and lowly virgin of Nazareth. And because of her purity and humility, she, who is as fair as the moon and bright as the sun, is also as awesome as an army in battle array. So the best way to be well prepared for our Lord’s coming is to entrust ourselves humbly to the power of His Mother and to imitate her virtues – most especially her purity. In His Sermon on the Mount, as He spelled out the Beatitudes, Jesus said: “blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.”

Certainly, St. Paul exhorts us to practice purity and refrain from all sins of the flesh in our second reading today. But even more than just being free from lust, being clean of heart is a matter of having our passions and desires rightly ordered, that is, ordered according to God’s will and design. So being clean of heart is ultimately a matter of desiring what our Lord desires for us. It’s a matter of being detached from the things of this world and intent on the things of Heaven. It’s a matter of being well prepared for our encounter with the Lord at the end of our lives. Advent is a time of year that we focus on this ultimate encounter with our Lord, and it is a time for us to properly order our desires and passions in accordance with God’s will through prayer and fasting.

In addition to trying to imitate our Lady’s purity, if we wish to be well prepared for meeting the Lord, we must entrust ourselves entirely to her as her children. As a loving mother Mary understands our weaknesses, and when we entrust ourselves to her loving care, she helps to correct our faults and failings through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our Lady also obtains for us the grace we need to carry our crosses with courage and dignity, and to profit by them. In short, if we give ourselves to her, Mary works to make us holy. For the past two summers, I’ve encouraged all of you to consecrate yourselves to Mary. Consecrating oneself to Mary is a matter of giving her full permission to take on her motherly role of forming us into ever more perfect likenesses of her Son, Jesus. And hundreds of you have done this!

But so that our parish family may be even more closely bound to Our Lady, and thus more perfectly united with our Lord, I am going to consecrate our parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – just as Bishop Jugis consecrated our diocese and the Holy Father consecrated the entire world to her Immaculate Heart this past October. In preparation for this, I have put a novena prayer into my weekly bulletin article that I’m asking all of you to pray from today, December 1st, until December 9th, which is the day we’re celebrating the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception this year. That evening during the 7 p.m. Mass I will offer the Prayer of Consecration for our entire parish family. In addition to praying the novena prayer for 9 days, I also ask that you give up something as a fast during this novena period as a means of strengthening your prayer – just as you would give up something for Lent.

I ask you to join me in this as an act of charity toward your fellow parishioners, and as an act of love to Our Lady. My brothers and sisters, our Lord is coming to meet us! May we climb Mt. Zion joyfully this Advent and be well prepared for meeting Him by dedicating ourselves to His Immaculate Mother. May she, who is our life, our sweetness, and our hope, protect us and sustain us always in her maternal love. Immaculate Heart of Mary, Cause of Our Joy, pray for us! 01 December 2013 © Reverend Timothy Reid Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio. To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date. Link to Homilies: http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61


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