Thursday, November 09, 2006

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
God’s Building


Readings: Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12; Psalm 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9; 1 Corinthians 3:9c-11, 16-17; John 2:13-22

To help us reflect more deeply on the readings today, it’s useful to consider briefly what it is we are celebrating. Our feast commemorates the dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome – the cathedral church of Rome and thus also of the whole Roman church, of which we are a part. However, as may be obvious to many, the feast is much more than a celebration of a physical building. In the liturgical calendar – along with other feasts such as the Presentation and the Transfiguration of the Lord, as well as the Triumph of the Cross – it is listed as a feast of the Lord, that is, as marking an event in the life of Christ. But how is the dedication of a cathedral – even a basilica – an event in the life of Christ? And of what relevance is this event to us here and now?

Here is where the readings prove helpful. The dedication of the physical building reminds us of our own dedication, our own identity as baptized Christians, as Church, as People of God, as Body of Christ. Didn’t you realize that you were God’s temple? The feast is a celebration of who we are, of who we are meant to be. And because we are God's temple, because Christ is the foundation, the corner-stone of this spiritual house, it is also ultimately a celebration of Christ, a feast of the Lord.

Who are we then? Who are we meant to be? Consider the first reading. Of what significance is the temple, except to be the abode and source of the life-giving stream, which grows into a great river? Fish will be very plentiful, for wherever the water goes it brings health, and life teems wherever the river flows.

This is who we are meant to be, what we are meant to do: to somehow be channels of God’s life and love in the world. And we can only begin to fulfill this awesome responsibility to the extent that we allow the spirit to flow freely in us and through us. Isn’t this why what Jesus does in the gospel is so important. He cleanses it of all the extraneous things that desecrate it, that prevent it from fulfilling its true purpose.

How might we allow Christ to do the same for us today?

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