Sometime back I caught my buddy Peggy Bowes on Relevant Radio, fielding questions about her book, The Rosary Workout. One of the callers was concerned that Peggy’s combining of the Rosary with walking and running was irreverent. This caller felt that that the Rosary should be prayed while one was stationary – stilled both interiorly and exteriorly. Peggy’s response, which I really enjoyed, appealed to the example of the Blessed Mother herself: Luke’s Gospel tells us how, following the Annunciation, “Mary rose and went with haste into the hill country of Judah” (Lk.1:39), to visit Elizabeth. Isn’t it natural to assume that Mary prayed as she trekked the over 75 miles from Nazareth to the outskirts of Jerusalem? Of course it is. And not only was Mary speaking to God; she was also meditating on Scripture – look at how quickly the words of the Old Testament (1 Sam.2:1-8) leapt to her lips when she met Elizabeth and burst into the Magnificat (Lk.1:46-55). Prayer and meditation upon Scripture – that’s the Rosary – and our Blessed Mother was engaged in it while on her 75 mile hike! I ask you to keep Peggy’s insights in mind as you continue to read.
After Mass this morning I remained seated, directing my gaze at the Tabernacle and praying. “Lord, thank You for coming into me. I can’t believe that You have made me Your tabernacle too, and that You’re coming with me as I visit my family this afternoon, as I head to work tomorrow . . . Lord, You’ve made my body a mobile Temple, a mobile home.” And then the connections started coming fast and furious: God had dwelt with Israel for 400 years before Solomon built Him a stationary Temple of stone – and He was a God on the move. His dwelling throughout those 400 years was a series of tents known as the Tabernacle. When God picked up and moved, Israel packed up the Tabernacle and set off through the desert following Him. The Ark of the Covenant, God’s Old Testament throne, was even equipped with poles so that the priests could carry it.
Luke brought Tabernacle and Ark imagery together in the way he worded his narratives of the Annunciation and Mary’s visitation to Elizabeth (Ex.40:34 and Lk.1:35; 2 Sam.6:2-16 and Lk.1:39-56). Yes, in the Visitation Mary acted as Jesus’ mobile home – the Tabernacle and Ark of the New Covenant. You and I continue this awesome reality. We bodily carry Jesus’ presence into our homes, workplaces, etc. That is our impetus in taking care of our bodies – giving them the right fuel, keeping them as agile as possible, and with sufficient strength to perform acts of love (e.g., helping your best friend move, throwing your kids up over your head).
Our Lord Jesus is of course the greatest example of this. Tramping across Galilee, the Decapolis, and Judea, up on the mountains and out in the desert – He was a Temple on the move! Like our Lord, the day will come when our bodies will finally yield to death, when we will find ourselves on a Cross, a bed of pain. At that moment we will unite our agony and the failure of our bodies to His sacrifice. (And like Him, we will one day receive them back, glorified, in the Resurrection.) In anticipation of our Passover from the present order we daily offer our bodies in service to the Father, just as Jesus did – as Temples on the move. We train our bodies (1 Cor.9:27) and through them offer ourselves as “living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God.” It is through the body that we Christians offer our “spiritual worship” (Rom.12:1).