9 November – Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the cathedral of the church of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope. It is officially named “Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour, St. John Baptist and St. John the Evangelist at the Lateran”.
It is the oldest and ranks first (being the cathedral of Rome) among the four major basilicas of Rome, and holds the title of ecumenical mother church (mother church of the whole inhabited world). An inscription on the façade, Christo Salvatore, dedicates the Lateran as the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour, for the cathedrals of all patriarchs are dedicated to Christ Himself. As the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, containing the papal throne, it ranks above all other churches, even above St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
The angel brought me to the entrance of the Temple, where a stream came out from under the Temple threshold and flowed eastwards, since the Temple faced east. The water flowed from under the right side of the Temple, south of the altar. He took me out by the north gate and led me right round outside as far as the outer east gate where the water flowed out on the right-hand side. He said, ‘This water flows east down to the Arabah and to the sea; and flowing into the sea it makes its waters wholesome. Wherever the river flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live. Fish will be very plentiful, for wherever the water goes it brings health, and life teems wherever the river flows. Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails; they will bear new fruit every month, because this water comes from the sanctuary. And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal.’
1 Corinthians 3:9-11,16-17
You are God’s building. By the grace God gave me, I succeeded as an architect and laid the foundations, on which someone else is doing the building. Everyone doing the building must work carefully. For the foundation, nobody can lay any other than the one which has already been laid, that is Jesus Christ.
Didn’t you realise that you were God’s temple and that the Spirit of God was living among you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred; and you are that temple.
Just before the Jewish Passover Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and in the Temple he found people selling cattle and sheep and pigeons, and the money changers sitting at their counters there. Making a whip out of some cord, he drove them all out of the Temple, cattle and sheep as well, scattered the money changers’ coins, knocked their tables over and said to the pigeon-sellers, ‘Take all this out of here and stop turning my Father’s house into a market.’ Then his disciples remembered the words of scripture: Zeal for your house will devour me. The Jews intervened and said, ‘What sign can you show us to justify what you have done?’ Jesus answered, ‘Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this sanctuary: are you going to raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body, and when Jesus rose from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the words he had said.
The temple of God is sacred
Since I became a Catholic in the 1980s, going to church was both a weekly obligation and an opportunity to catch up with friends for a good meal and some socialising. I would step into church and find my seat in the pew and wait for mass to begin. Very often, during mass, I would think about what to have for lunch, frequently checking my watch to see when mass would end. Post-mass, I would go off, happy to have done my part as a ‘good Catholic’.
The big change happened when I attended a retreat. I was blessed that we spent a lot of time before the Blessed Sacrament. Before I realized it, I began to experience God’s presence, fully and in a way that I have never before. In my reflections, I felt that I had been chastised, gently, about the cavalier way which I had towards our Lord.
This was what happened in today’s gospel. Over time, the people had forgotten the sacredness of the temple, and increasingly, selfish human nature took over. Jesus, in driving the traders out of the temple, seeks to remind them (and us) that we are to always be reverential towards our God. The irreverence of the traders was so extensive that Jesus literally lashed out in anger, using a cord to physically whip and drive them out of the temple.
Today also celebrates the feast day of the dedication of the St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome, the only feast day to do so. While St Peter’s Basilica is often thought to be the main church of the Catholic Church, it is not. Instead, the Pope’s official church is the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the land of which was given to the Church by the Emperor Constantine in the year 324, although the current Basilica was rebuilt in the 16th century. As the official home of the Pope as Bishop of Rome, this structure is truly magnificent.
Brothers and sisters, as we celebrate this special feast today, let us remember that when we step into the house of God, we are there to celebrate the sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ, who gave himself up for all of us. Let us always maintain a reverence and sense of decorum in His house.
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer: Lord, help us to never keep score about what we are doing; the ‘good things’, thinking that this would help us to secure our place in heaven. Help us Lord, to offer all these to you in love, as a gift to You.
Thanksgiving: Father God, thank you for always loving us and being there for us. Thank you for sending your precious Son, Jesus, to die for us. Thank you for giving us the gift of eternal life.