9 November – Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
The Lateran Basilica was built by the Emperor Constantine on the Lateran Hill in Rome in about 324. The feast of its dedication has been celebrated in Rome on this date since the twelfth century. In honour of the basilica, “the mother and head of all the churches of the City and the World,” the feast has been extended to the whole Roman Rite as a sign of unity and love towards the See of Peter, which, as St Ignatius of Antioch said in the second century, “presides over the whole assembly of charity.”
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.
You are God’s building
Today’s feast commemorates the anniversary of the dedication of the Pope’s Cathedral in Rome. It may seem strange as to why we should be celebrating a feast which is so distant and far away. I believe the celebration of this feast will remind us of at least two of the four marks of the Church which is — One and Catholic.
We may be separated by geography from Rome, but we are certainly one whole. Christ is the Head of the Church and we, as its members of this body, will then have the privilege of being part of a faith which all believers accept to be true. Catholic, which means universal, makes us part of a Church to which we can find parishes throughout the world. Unlike our separated brethren, it is possible to find a Catholic Church in every major city and even in rural villages. But the feast of today is not intended to be a celebration of bricks and mortar but, rather, it is one where we celebrate the living stones which make it up, that is, all the believers.
St Paul reminds us in the second reading that we are God’s temple, and that His spirit lives within us. This feast reminds us that we also need to honour the spirit of God within us and not subject it to grief as a result of sin and evil. As we continue with our lives, let us pause to ask God to rekindle within us the spirit of fervour within us to continue to serve Him. Just as we celebrate this great feast of a building, let us pray for the living buildings of our bodies that we may continue to worship God in sincerity and love.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we give thanks for such a wonderful faith which we possess.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to God for the gift of faith.