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)
Today’s feast celebrates the dedication of the Lateran Basilica. Many wonder, what is so great about that? It is one of the four magnificent churches in Rome and the locale of five general councils of the Church, the most important one being the fourth in 1215. That council called for bishops to appoint preachers and to support them in their work. The mandate paved the way for the establishment of the Dominican Order a year later.
More importantly, the Lateran Cathedral is the church of the bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ. As such, it serves as the symbol of all Christian churches. In other words, today we raise up for consideration all the churches in the world. A church is the preferred meeting place of the human person with God. As we enter a church, we make a blessing with holy water. This is a way of cleansing ourselves from the mess we sometimes make in the world so that we may communicate with God.
The deepest meaning for a church is actually Christ himself. The church is the body of Christ as Jesus implies in today’s gospel. Here we feel his warm embrace. For this reason a church has been considered as a sanctuary where sinners and even criminals might find refuge. Today we celebrate not so much a building but Jesus Christ. We give God thanks for the love Christ has shown us and for the peace he imparts to us.