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)
It would be hard to exaggerate the importance of the Jewish Temple in Jesus’ day. For Jews it served as the one place where due reverence may be given to God. Economically it provided most Jerusalemites with livelihood. If it could be compared with any structure today, it would be the great mosque in Mecca which millions of pilgrims visit every year to give homage to God. It should cause little wonder then why Jesus’ action in today’s gospel creates such consternation.
Jesus disrupts the usual business at the Temple. He starts a virtual riot as he drives away the merchants along with their livestock and the money changers. The Jews misconstrue his motives as much as they misunderstand his words. They think that he is an upstart looking to make a name for himself. When Jesus tells them that if they try to destroy him, he will rise again, they believe he is referring to the Temple.
In celebrating the Lateran Basilica today, we celebrate all Catholic churches. The giant structure serves as a sign for all places where Christians come together to offer bread and wine to God and receive in return the body and blood of Jesus. The feast indicates that we don’t have to go to Rome to give true worship to God. Our parish church serves quite well in providing space for the common sacrifice of our salvation.