09Nov 09 November (Friday). Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

Ezek 47:1-12. Ezekiel sees life-giving river flows out from the Jerusalem temple, to bring new life to the wilderness.

1 Cor 3:9-11, 16-17. In Paul’s view, we are in fact the very Temple of God upon earth.

John 2:13-22. Jesus sees his own Body as a Temple which will be destroyed, but then raised up from the dead.

Theme: Where is the true temple? This feast of the mother-church of Latin Christendom is an occasion for us to appreciate what the church is really for, in our lives.

A Special House of Prayer

Today we celebrate the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica Saint John of Lateran. This church is the Cathedral of the Pope, because the Pope is the bishop of Rome, and, as such, he possesses a church-cathedral, that is to say a church where he possesses his seat, or See. The Basilica of Saint John of Lateran was chosen as the Cathedral of the Pope long before Saint Peter’s Basilica was built. It is where the papacy was housed for centuries before moving across the Tiber to where Vatican City now stands.

The gospel of today which speaks to us about the temple of Jerusalem is reflective of this feast of the Dedication. The temple of Jerusalem serves as an image and a symbol of the Church of Christ living today, in the twenty-first century. It suggests both the idea of the temple’s sacredness, and also the need for constant purification of the structures of our Church.

“In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Listen to what is said to us by the Saviour of the world : “You shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” Are these words addressed to us? I fear that they are, but today, trade, business, and commerce of all kind are not conducted inside the churches, they take place outside, sometimes just next door, including Sundays. And this concentration on material things is of such import to the life of the people that they forget to go to church. On Sundays, instead of seeing the believers in the church, we see them elsewhere, conducting business. If they conducted their businesses in the church, they would be present at least in body, although not in mind; but no, they are neither present in body nor in mind, and on Sundays the churches are empty, or almost…

“Zeal for your house will consume me.” What an example to follow! This is what all the Christians have to do in order to follow Christ – to let oneself be consumed with goodwill for the glory of God and for the reign which he wants to institute at all costs in the hearts, in the houses, in the communities, in the countries, and in all the earth! May the goodwill for the house of God devour us! May this church in which we are gathered be the place of prayer, and not one of trade! May the universal Church which unites all the believers be a community of praying persons and of saints, led by pastors deeply imbued with Gospel spirit, in the imitation of Christ.

First Reading: Book of Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-10, 12

Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple; there, water was flowing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gate that faces toward the east; and the water was coming out on the south side.

He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the sea, the sea of stagnant waters, the water will become fresh. Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes. People will stand fishing beside the sea from En-gedi to En-eglaim; it will be a place for the spreading of nets; its fish will be of a great many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea.

On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”

Second Reading: First Epistle to the Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If any one destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are.

Gospel: John 2:13-22

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”

His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.