Thursday, November 9, 2017

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, the Dedication of St. John Lateran, is somewhat of an anomaly.  That is, it is somewhat unusual.  We seldom celebrate the anniversaries of churches.  But the Lateran Basilica, as St. John’s is often called, is also known as the “mother church of Christendom” or “the pope’s church.”  In celebrating it we celebrate all Christian churches.

Today’s gospel shows Jesus driving money-changers from the Temple area.  Speaking of anomalies, we see Jesus in this scene, which is repeated in each of the four gospels, using force.  He did not regularly resort to arms or tolerate their employment.  Jesus remains the Prince of Peace who warned us that the one who “lives by the sword dies by the sword” and commanded us to “love your enemies.”  Yet he takes us the whip evidently as an extreme act to show necessary regard for God’s house.

We should have a similar reverence for our churches.  God can encounter humans anywhere He chooses.  But we build churches that glorify Him so that He might choose to meet us there regularly.  As we enter church, we customarily dip our fingers in the holy water font and make the sign of the cross.  This signifies our cleansing ourselves of the contaminants of the world – the inordinate desire for fame, fortune, and fun – so that we might listen to God talk to our hearts.