Tuesday, November 9, 2021 The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

1st 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 desert

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.”

Or: 1 Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17

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

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.

Responsorial: from Psalm 45

Resp.: The waters of the river gladden the city of God

God is for us a refuge and strength,
a helper close at hand, in time of distress:
so we shall not fear though the earth should rock,
though the mountains fall into the depths of the sea. (R./)
The waters of a river give joy to God’s city,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within, it cannot be shaken;
God will help it at the dawning of the day.. (R./)
The Lord of hosts is with us:
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Come, consider the works of the Lord,
the redoubtable deeds he has done on the earth.. (R./)

Gospel: John 2:13-22

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

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.

A House of Prayer

Today we recall the Basilica Saint John of Lateran, the Pope’s own church, the Cathedral of Rome. The Lateran was chosen as the Cathedral Rome long before Saint Peter’s was built. It is where the papacy was housed for centuries before moving 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 Jerusalem temple serves as a symbol of the Church of today, in the twenty-first century. It conveys 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.” Today it is not in our churches that trade, business, and commerce of all kind are conducted; but they take place outside, including on Sundays. Our concentration on material things often makes us forget to go to church. On Sundays, instead of the believers gathering in the church, we see them elsewhere, going about their business. “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Can we let ourselves be consumed, like Christ, with enthusiasm for worshiping God? May desire to fill the house of God fill our hearts! May this church where we are gathered be the place of prayer, and not one of trade! May the universal Church which unites all believers be a community of humble worship, led by pastors deeply imbued with the spirit of Christ.

The Lateran Basilica

The first Christian emperor, Constantine, had a church built on land that once belonged to the Laterani family. That 4th century church was the precursor of the present Basilica. The Baptistery attached to the present Basilica is where emperor Constantine was baptized. This Basilica now serves as the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rome. It is the Pope’s own church in his capacity as Bishop of Rome. For that reason, it has the title, “mother and head of all the churches of the city and the world,” and that includes our own parish church where we are gathered for prayer. While our church is much smaller than the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome, both are equally monuments to people’s faith. In the first reading Paul tells the Christians in Corinth, “you are God’s building you are God’s temple.” More fundamental than the building we call church are the people we call church. The building we call church is there to help us to express our identity as a people of faith called to worship God through Christ in the Spirit. If our worship is to be authentic, the shape of our worship must become the shape of our lives. Our whole lives are to be a movement towards God, through Christ and in the Spirit. This is what it means to be church, to be the temple of God in the world. This is the heart of our baptismal calling.

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