09Nov 09 Nov 2017. Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

In the temple God is worshipped. Celebrating the mother-church of western Christendom invites us to see what the church is really for. “You are God’s building” – the real sanctuary of God is in the hearts of his people.

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

Ezekiel sees life-giving river flows out from the Jerusalem temple, to bring new life to the wilderness.

The angel 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.”

2nd Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17

In Paul’s view, we are in fact the very Temple of God upon earth.

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

Jesus sees his own Body as a Temple which will be destroyed, but then raised up from the dead.

When the Passover of the Jews was near, 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.


A House of Prayer

Today we recall the Basilica Saint John of Lateran, the Pope’s parish church, Rome’s local Cathedral. The Lateran was (and still is) the bishop’s seat (Cathedra) in Rome, where it stood long before Saint Peter’s was built. The papal household was based for centuries in the Lateran before moving to the Quirinal, and later across the Tiber to where Vatican City now stands. The gospel about the purification of the temple of Jerusalem is apt for today’s feast. The temple serves as a symbol of the Church of today, in our 21st century. It conveys both the idea of the temple’s sacredness, and also the need for constant purification of the Church’s structures.

In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. Today it is not in our churches that trade, business, and commerce of all kind are conducted; but plenty of commerce goes on nowadays, on Sundays. Our obsession with shopping plus our emphasis on weekend leisure makes many people forget to go to church. Even some who are occasional believers in Christ will often find themselves too caught up in other business to join in Sunday Mass.

Zeal for your house will consume me. Can we find again the wellsprings of zeal that Jesus refers to? How can we rekindle people’s enthusiasm for gathering in worship to draw near to God ? May we hope to again see the house of God full of joyful praise! May we gather at the place of prayer as often as we do in shopping centres. May the universal Church which unites all believers be a community of true worship, led by pastors deeply imbued with the spirit of Christ.



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