“The waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High” ~ Psalm 46
On this the day our Church celebrates the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome, we revisit Jesus in the temple as he drives out the vendors and money changers, essentially re-setting or “rectifying” the temple in advance of his seminal moment (John 2:13-22). Jesus’ Body would serve as the new temple, and just as our 1st Reading (Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-8, 12) paints vivid pictures of “water flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east” as well as “the water that flowed down from the southern side of the temple south of the altar”, so too would water flow from the side of Jesus’ pierced and crucified body, mixed with the blood and sweat of his cruel passion, the brutal ransom for the sins of mankind. The torn-down temple of his body would indeed go on to be raised in 3 days.
In today’s 2nd Reading (1 Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17) Paul reminds the people of Corinth that they are in fact “God’s building,” explaining how his teachings and letters, galvanized by the Gifts of the Holy Spirit working within him, were merely meant to build the foundation of the bodily temple. Knowing that he would soon be moving on to his next destination, Paul warned them to be careful as to how they would subsequently build upon that foundation and that Jesus was of course the only true path to salvation. Destruction would be the tragic fate that awaited those who rejected the Son of God’s teachings.
“There is no barrier between those who are reborn and made one by this one font, the one Spirit and the one faith.” These are the words that make up the inscription emblazoned over the baptistery connected to this breathtaking basilica, a basilica that was once the Lateran Palace and built on property owned by the Emperor Constantine. Upon his stirring conversion to Christianity, Constantine donated it to the Bishop of Rome, Pope Sylvester I. It was dedicated as the Pope’s Cathedral on this day in the year 324. This quote speaks to the unifying power of baptism, wherein saint and sinner alike are claimed as children of God’s Kingdom. This Kingdom that we yearn and strive for is not of this earth. As children of God the Father, we are in the world but not of the world. The Kingdom of God is at hand and is is to come.
Today’s anniversary reminds us of the power and wisdom of God, which flows through Christ’s Church into the world which we are asked to navigate and evangelize. It’s made manifest in dynamic charitable organizations such as the Sain’t Vincent DePaul Society and the Stephens Ministry, the gift of the Eucharist, the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary, the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit, the Communion of Saints, and in so many other glorious ways. We are never alone in our journey home to the Kingdom we so desire.
I leave you with these words from the Book of Revelation (21:3), words which serve as today Entrance Antiphon, for nestled within them resides our hope, our purpose and yes, our destiny: “Behold God’s dwelling place with the the human race. He will do well with them and they will be his people, and God himself with them will be there God.”
“Dear Lord, make us ever mindful that your very Spirit dwells within us. May we look to serve and glorify you in all that we do” ~ Amen