Monday, 9 November 2015 : Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, Archbasilica of St. John Lateran (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate a great feast day, a great solemnity in commemoration of the dedication of the hreatest church in Christendom. For today we celebrate the dedication of the Cathedral of Rome, the seat of authority of the Bishop of Rome who is the Vicar of Christ and the Leader of the Universal Church, and therefore the principal church among all churches in the world.

Then one may think, that is place is the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican. However, that is not the case, for indeed, while the Papal Basilica of St. Peter is also a very important church, dedicated for St. Peter the first Pope and Vicar of our Lord Jesus Christ, and built above his place of martyrdom and his tomb, but it is second in preeminence to the Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.

It is in this Archbasilica, that the Pope our Leader has his Cathedra, that is his throne, the throne exceeding all other cathedras, as the primary and chief seat of authority encompassing the whole world and the whole Church of God. This was the very first church that was built after the end of the great persecutions of the faithful, and the sign of the ultimate triumph of the Faith and the Church.

For it was donated to the Pope by the first ever Christian Emperor of the Roman Empire, Emperor Constantine the Great, who enacted the Edict of Milan that ended persecutions against the Faith. This great Archbasilica was thus built, and then dedicated on this day over seventeen centuries ago, and dedicated firstly to our Lord, the Most Holy Saviour, and the saints, St. John the Baptist, His herald, and His Apostle, St. John the Evangelist.

This is reflected in its full official name, as the Papal Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour and Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist in Lateran, Mother and Head of all churches in Rome and in the world. This designation marks it as the heart of Christendom, and the focal point to which all the faithful in the Church ought to turn themselves to, in obedience to the Pope and the holy traditions and teachings of the Church.

And on this joyous occasion, when we celebrate the dedication of this great Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, we are called to reflect about what is the Temple of God, its significance, the holiness that should be associated with it, and how it is relevant to all of us, as God’s faithful and as He dwell with us, and as we gather and exist in His holy presence. It is important that we take note how we ought to live in accordance to this fact.

Why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? First we have to take note of what Jesus had done in the Gospel today, where He came into the Temple courtyard with His disciples, and seeing how so many merchants, tax collectors, money changers and many other people who performed acts and works contrary to the way of the Lord, where cheating, bribery and love for money were commonplace.

He took a whip and chased out all of the merchants and money changers, and chased their goods and money out with them, that the Temple grounds might be purified from all of the impurities and wickedness that had filled it and defiled it. What Jesus had done, was an example for all of us to follow. He purified the Temple of God, the House of God’s dwelling on earth, so that God who is holy and perfect in all things will dwell in a truly holy edifice without the taints of wickedness of the world.

Thus, before a church, or a cathedral or a basilica can be utilised for the purpose of the Holy Mass and divine worship, they must first be consecrated and made holy first. No Mass can be said on the altar and in the Church before these have been consecrated to God and prepared in holiness. This is how the celebration of today’s memorial of the dedication of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran is very important, as this greatest, mother and head of all churches in the world was consecrated on this very day.

And even more importantly for each and every one of us, do we realise that each one of us is also a holy Temple of the Lord, the place of His dwelling on earth? This is because all of us who have been made a member of the Church have been welcomed into the unity in the Lord, cleansed by our baptism, the Sacrament of Baptism, when the holy water and holy oils anointed us and purified us from all of our past sins. We have also been claimed as the children of God, by the seal of the Most Holy Name of the Trinity.

And by the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Holy Spirit Himself dwells in us. And the Spirit dwells in our hearts, and we become the Temple of the Holy Spirit, God Who dwells in us, as St. Paul have elaborated in his letter to the faithful and the Church in Corinth, where he exhorted that all of the faithful should keep themselves pure and holy, for God Himself dwells in us, and if we are unworthy and allow wickedness, darkness and sins to corrupt this Temple, then we are accountable for that.

For we cannot forget that the third of the three important Sacraments of Initiation, namely Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, is God Himself Who had made Himself to take up the flesh of Man, so that by this act, He may dwell in us and be united with us, by the giving of His own Body and Blood, the Flesh that has become His very essence, that God now dwells in all of us who have worthily received Him in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

By this, we are even more affirmed in our status as the Holy Temple and the Holy Dwelling and Place of our God, the dwelling He has on this earth, that is in the heart, mind, soul and bodies of all those who are faithful to God and keep themselves holy and pure. If we do not keep ourselves worthy, holy and pure, then we just have to look at the Gospel today of what God will do to us.

He will drive all those who are wicked and unrepentant away from His presence, just as He had done the same towards the money changers and merchants who tainted His House with vile, wickedness in all its various forms and sin. God will not tolerate sin in His presence, and unless we repent and purify ourselves from all of our past wickedness, we will not have a share in His everlasting glory and life.

Therefore today, as we celebrate this great solemnity of the dedication of the greatest Church of Christendom, let us all also remember ourselves as God’s Holy Temples on earth, and how we need to preserve our state of sanctity and purity or else we are actually blaspheming and disrespecting God, for we spurn His Name and holiness by our wicked actions, and we are a scandal to Him.

Therefore, let us remind ourselves and discipline ourselves, so that just as Jesus used a whip to cast out all of the merchants, the money lenders and changers, and all of their animals and vile money, let us all also keep our lives holy, that our Body, the Temple of God and His Residence may remain holy and worthy of our Lord, so that we may always receive God’s grace and blessings, and not instead curses and damnation.

May Almighty God bless us all, strengthen us all in our resolve to live our lives with true faith and devotion. May He bless us in all of our endeavours and shine upon us on our way at all times. God be with us all. Amen.

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