(Usus Antiquior) Dedication of the Archbasilica of our Saviour, Feast of St. Theodore, Martyr (II Classis) – Wednesday, 9 November 2016 : Homily and Scripture Reflections

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate with the entire Universal Church, the feast of the dedication of the greatest church in Christendom, the very heart of our Faith, the very seat of the Successor of St. Peter in this world, that is the Basilica of St. John Lateran, also known by its official name of the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour and Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist in the Lateran.

The Basilica of St. John Lateran is where the Bishops of Rome, the Popes have their Cathedra at. Cathedra is the seat of the bishop, the seat of authority and his throne, representing the teaching authority which had been handed down to him by his predecessors, in an unbroken chain of Apostolic succession. And for the Pope, as the Bishop of Rome, this succession originated from none other than St. Peter the Apostle, the Prince of Apostles, leader of the Universal Church and the Vicar of Christ.

Therefore today we celebrate both the authority of the Popes as the successors of St. Peter the Apostle, and more particularly, their seat of authority as the Bishop of Rome, the Cathedral of the Popes, the Cathedral of Rome itself, that is the Archbasilica of our Saviour, the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which is rightly often called, the Mother Church of the entire Christendom, because it is exactly the pivot and the centre, around which the entire Universal Church spins.

Today is the commemoration of the very date this Basilica was dedicated and consecrated to the Lord, a very important event which marked the moment when the building of the church was made holy and sacrosanct, blessed and dedicated to the Lord, to be a place of holy worship, worthy of the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

And in the Epistle today, we heard on how the Lord is willing to come down from heaven to dwell with us, and this He had done, through His Son Jesus Christ, the One who saved us all through His suffering and death on the cross. He is the tabernacle of God who came down from heaven, to dwell among us forever. What is a tabernacle? Surely we are all aware that the tabernacle is the holiest place in the Church, where the very Holy and Real Presence of God in the Eucharist is housed.

Therefore, Jesus Christ who came into the world, both the Son of Man and Son of God, both fully human and fully divine, is the Word of God made flesh, who took up the humanity and the flesh of mankind to manifest the perfect love of God in this world. Through Him, God has dwelled among men forever, and this He kept true, even until now and beyond, because He has given us His own Body and Blood through the Eucharist, and for us who receive them worthily, the Lord dwells in us, and we dwell in Him.

We have to realise therefore, today, as we celebrate this feast of the dedication of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, we should realise also that just as the holiness and sanctity of that sacred place was created by its dedication and there is a need to maintain that holiness, then we too must realise that as I have mentioned, that because the Lord has dwelled among us, we are also the tabernacles of God, that is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

We are all therefore also meant to be the Temples of God. As such, we have to maintain the purity and holiness of our lives, of our bodies and hearts, or else, the corruption of sin would come to pollute the purity of the Temple of our body and heart. If we allow this fornication and corruption to affect this holy Temple, then our lot will be condemnation and destruction by the Lord, who will destroy us for our sinfulness.

How do then we do this, brothers and sisters in Christ? That means all of us should avoid any kinds of actions and attitudes that cause sin to develop and corrupt our hearts. We should keep ourselves clean and pure, by doing what is good in the sight of God, and abandoning all forms of fornications and evils from everything we do, and from everything we say.

Our Lord loves us, brothers and sisters in Christ, and He actively seeks all those who have sinned and have fallen into the darkness, like that of a shepherd looking for his lost sheep. The Gospel today clearly showed this to us, as Jesus showed His love and mercy for Zachaeus, the rich merchant and tax collector, who was seen by the Pharisees as a great sinner for his actions.

Yet it was his sincere desire and effort to seek the Lord, even to climb up a tall tree just so that he could see Him, that brought him into salvation. Jesus also praised him for his faith, and for his commitment to doing what is good and righteous, even to the point of declaring his love for the Lord publicly, and vowed to give to the poor, his love and care.

Therefore, the example of Zachaeus in the Gospel today can be an inspiration for us all, that it is never too late for us to begin a new life in Christ. Although we may have sinned greatly in the past, but with the help of the Lord and sincere effort from our side, we can attain a new holy, pure and committed life to God, and therefore create for ourselves, the holy Temple of God, that is our body, heart and soul.

Today we also celebrate the memory and feast of St. Theodore, a holy martyr of the faith, who was once a soldier in the Roman Army, at the time of the late Roman Empire. He was one of the faithful, and in the still pagan Roman Empire, and especially in the Roman Army, that was a difficult thing to do. He remained true to his faith, and when the Emperor at the time, who was very staunchly pagan and anti-Christian, ordered all those in the army to give idol offering to the pagan gods, St. Theodore refused to do so.

St. Theodore therefore was martyred for his faith, in the zealous and unbending devotion to God, like a true soldier of the Lord indeed. He was therefore the patron saints of warriors and crusaders, the holy warriors fighting in the Name of the Lord. Many who seek help against the forces of evil and darkness pray for the intercession of St. Theodore, the holy and brave martyr of God.

Therefore, on this holy and joyous occasion, let us all ask for the intercession of St. Theodore the martyr, and also all the saints of God, and most especially the Blessed Mother of our God, our Blessed Virgin Mary, to pray for us and intercede for our sake, that we may be strengthened against the forces of evil trying to corrupt us, our bodies, our minds, our hearts and souls, which are the Temples of the Lord’s Holy Presence.

Let us all always be mindful of our words, actions and deeds, that we think twice, thrice and even more, before we even think of committing any sin or any acts deplorable to God. Let us all follow the example of Zachaeus, to declare our love for the Lord and devote ourselves completely and entirely to Him without fear, and give the best of our effort to follow the Lord and walk in His ways.

May Almighty God guide us in this battle of life, so that just as He had sanctified the Basilica of St. John Lateran as the Mother Church of all of His Church and the whole of Christendom, He may also sanctify us as the Temples of His Presence within us, through the Most Holy Eucharist which we receive into ourselves. May God bless us for our faith, and keep us in His love always, forever and ever. Amen.

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