Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
(Ezekiel 47:1-2.8-9.12; I Corinthians 3:9c-11.16-17; John 2:13-22)
A woman once badgered an official of a minute city not to approve a request for rezoning. The request came from a small Christian community that wanted to use a storefront for its church. The woman opposed the request because the property would no longer generate tax revenue. The official approved the request, however, because he thought it advantageous to have churches within the city.
Not only in the marketplace but also within the Christian community there exists ambivalence about church structures. We build churches not only to give people a place to congregate but also to testify to the glory of God. Yet we know that churches transcend buildings. The primary theological definition for the church is “the people of God” forming the “Body of Christ.” As Paul teaches the Corinthians in the second reading today, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
The Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral church of Rome, is called “the mother and head of all churches of the city and of the world.” In celebrating its dedication today we celebrate all church buildings. They are not as important as the people who worship inside them. But they perform an invaluable service by providing those worshippers a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the world where they may pray to their Creator.