Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

Ez 47:1,2,8,9,12; Ps 46:2,3,5,6,8,9; 1Cor 3:9-11,16-17; Jn 2:13-22:  The Church today needs a refuge and strength.  There may not be earthquakes or volcanoes in the city of Rome, but there is ever-present danger for the Church, the Body of Christ.  In celebrating the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, the mother church of the Latin Rite, we honor all the dwelling places of the Most High.  The Holy Spirit is the divine stream whose runlets gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High.  The LORD God is in the midst of his people who gather in all the churches throughout the world, east and west.  He will help us at the break of every day.  He is with us as our true dwelling place and lasting stronghold. At the summons of the God of Jacob, we stand here and behold how his mighty deeds are told and retold.  Again and again, the things the LORD has wrought on earth astound us.

The prophet Ezekiel is caught up in a vision of the majesty of the LORD overflowing from his temple out into the whole world.  The water flowing out from the beneath the threshold of the temple flows out as a blessing into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh.  This river floods the earth with life and not destruction. Abundant life is born from the refreshing waters of the Holy Spirit.  All life upon the earth finds its origin and support from the abundance of the LORD’s self-gift.  Every living creature, abundant fish, and trees of every kind grow and bear fruit, a fruit that will last.  Month after month, these trees bear fresh fruit because they are watered by the flow from the sanctuary.  Their fruit shall serve as food for all God’s people, and their leaves will bring healing. Such is the vision of Ezekiel; this prophet opens wide the eyes of all who hear the Lord’s Word.  Now, we can see what we never saw before.  Now, we notice the living waters that spring up within Christ, the Living Temple of God.  At last, we who are washed clean in the blood of the Lamb and refreshed with the Holy Spirit behold the glory that is ours, as we share in the very life of the Living God.

With eyes opened by the prophet Ezekiel, we can now share in the vision of Saint Paul in his letter to the beloved brothers and sisters in Corinth.  The same Holy Spirit who gives refreshment and life in abundance has inspired Saint Paul to see the truth of our identity.  We are God’s building; we are the true temple of God; we are the Body of Christ.  By the grace of God, Saint Paul sees himself as a wise master builder who has laid the foundation upon which others now build by preaching and service.  He goes on to warn all who build upon this foundation to never forget that Christ is the only sure foundation upon which the faith of God’s people can be built.  This wise counsel is directed to the ministers of the Gospel who have inherited this divine building project from Saint Paul and all the Apostles. Never can their work be used to build up their own self-importance.  Church is never about the personal projects of human ego.  The ordained servants of the new temple must never get in God’s way. They must pray as did Mother Theresa of Calcutta, “Lord, help me stay out of your way.”  In the same way, Saint Paul warns all earthly powers, all human authorities, to take heed of the LORD’s sovereign majesty when he writes, “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.”   This is the sure refuge in which we live and move and have our being; we have nothing to fear.

Early in the Gospel of Saint John, the Lord Jesus takes on the similar men of authority in the temple that Saint Paul took on in his letter to the Corinthians.  A prophetic and zealous Christ cried out, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”  He challenged the leaders of the Jews and drove out the merchants from the temple.  Like the first disciples, we remember these words of the Lord Jesus, and we come to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.  After the Lord has died and risen from the dead, his words inspire our own prophetic and zealous nature.  We, too, must drive out of our Father’s house all those who use religion for their own gain and seek profit from the faith of God’s Holy Ones. Such a mandate does not make us reckless or violent, but it cannot be ignored.  We must be vigilant and faithful, so that all people find in our churches a place of welcome and peace in the midst of this world’s threats and subtle attempts to trivialize faith.  Without this kind of zeal, we will have nothing to offer those who search for truth and love throughout the world.  Indeed, we who gather here again and again reveal the Father’s desire to gather all his children into the Body of Christ, the Living Temple.