Saturday 13 September 2014

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

Why do we celebrate the Feast of The Basilica of St. John Lateran? In the first reading, the prophet Ezekiel in a vision sees waters flowing out of the temple. He sees how this water makes the “salt waters” fresh and how it brings food and life. Ezekiel describes the temple as life-giving. In the second reading, St. Paul describes the Church as “God’s building”. He describes the community as “the temple of God”, and “holy.” Finally, in the Gospel, Jesus refers His body as a temple when He says, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews thought He was talking about the Temple in Jerusalem; the Apostles only understood this after the Resurrection. So today’s readings tell us that the temple of God gives forth life-giving water. They tell us that we, the Church, are the Temple of God as a community, the Body of Christ.

We worship in buildings; St. John Lateran ranks first among those buildings, as it is the Cathedral of the Pope. St. Paul tells us that we are the Temple of God, and that the Spirit of God lives in us. So, if we are the Temple of God, then life-giving waters ought to flow from us. If we are the Body of Christ, then people ought to see in us the hands and feet of Christ at work. Whatever issues we may face, at the end of the day, Christ calls us to be His presence in the world.

Thus the Feast of St. John Lateran is not just about a building. This feast day is about the Church, our Church, the Body of Christ. The building is special because of what flows from it: the Body of Christ, sent into the world to be Christ’s life-giving presence. Christ calls and sends us to be the waters flowing from His temple, bringing life, and bearing fruit in the world. He assures us that, no matter what happens, this Body of Christ, this Temple of the Holy Spirit, God’s Church, cannot be destroyed. So our mission is to flow, like the waters Ezekiel saw in his vision, to bring life. We are the Church, the Body of Christ, and we do our part to bring life to the world.

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