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.

Monday, 9 November 2015 : Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, Archbasilica of St. John Lateran (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 2 : 13-22

At that time, as the Passover of the Jews was at hand, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple court He found merchants selling oxen, sheep and doves, and money changers seated at their tables.

Making a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the Temple court, together with the oxen and sheep. He knocked over the tables of the money changers, scattering the coins, and ordered the people selling doves, “Take all this away, and stop turning My Father’s House into a marketplace!”

His disciples recalled the words of Scripture : ‘Zeal for Your House devours Me like fire.’ The Jews then questioned Jesus, “Where are the miraculous signs which give You the right to do this?” And Jesus said, “Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up.”

The Jews then replied, “The building of this Temple has already taken forty-six years, and will You raise it up in three days?” Actually, Jesus was referring to the Temple of His Body. Only when He had risen from the dead did His disciples remember these words, then they believed both the Scriptures and the words Jesus had spoken.”

Monday, 9 November 2015 : Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, Archbasilica of St. John Lateran (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 Corinthians 3 : 9c-11, 16-17

You are God’s field and building. I, as a good architect, according to the capacity given to me, I laid the foundation, and another is to build upon it. Each one must be careful how to build upon it. No one can lay a foundation other than the one which is already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Do you not know that you are God’s Temple, and that God’s Spirit abides within you? If anyone destroys the Temple of God, God will destroy him. God’s Temple is holy, and you are this Temple.

Monday, 9 November 2015 : Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, Archbasilica of St. John Lateran (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 45 : 2-3, 5-6, 8-9

God is our strength and protection, an ever-present help in affliction. We will not fear, therefore, though the earth be shaken and the mountains plunge into the seas.

There is a river whose streams bring joy to the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within, the city cannot quake, for God’s help is upon it at the break of day.

For with us is the Lord of hosts, the God of Jacob, our Refuge. Come, see the works of the Lord – the marvellous things He has done in the world.

Monday, 9 November 2015 : Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, Archbasilica of St. John Lateran (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Ezekiel 47 : 1-2, 8-9, 12

The man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple and I saw water coming out from the threshold of the Temple and flowing eastwards. The Temple faced the east and water flowed from the south side of the Temple, from the south side of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing the east and there I saw the stream coming from the south side.

He said to me, “This water goes to the east, down to the Arabah, and when it flows into the sea of foul-smelling water, the water will become wholesome. Wherever the river flows, swarms of creatures will live in it; fish will be plentiful and the sea water will become fresh. Wherever it flows, life will abound.”

“Near the river on both banks there will be all kinds of fruit trees with foliage that will not wither and fruit that will never fail; each month they will bear a fresh crop because the water comes from the Temple. The fruit will be good to eat and the leaves will be used for healing.”

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of the Basilicas)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate together with the whole universal Church, the feast of the dedication of two of the four greatest churches in the whole world. These four churches are the primary church buildings of the entire Christendom, and they are the Papal Basilicas, each of which was dedicated to important patron saints of the Church.

The first, head and mother of all the churches of Rome and the whole world is dedicated to our Lord Himself, the Most Holy Saviour of all, and also to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, the Lateran Archbasilica, which feast we had just celebrated a few days ago. It is the Cathedral of the Pope, and the centre and heart of the whole Christendom.

And then after that, in importance and primacy, we have the greatest church in Christendom, the Papal Basilica of St. Peter, which is probably the most well known church in the whole world, as not only that it is the most elaborate but also because the Pope celebrates the majority of his celebrations in that great basilica. St. Peter himself was martyred at the site of the great basilica, the former Vatican hills, and his bones can be found there in its necropolis.

And then we also have the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, or also known as the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major, dedicated to the Mother of our Lord and the Protector of the city and people of Rome. And lastly, we have the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, or San Paulo fuori le mura, named as such because it was located outside the historical walls of the city of Rome, dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle, who was beheaded in Rome in holy martyrdom.

Today we celebrate the day of the consecration and dedication of two of these four great basilicas, dedicated to none other than St. Peter the Apostle, the Prince of the Apostles, Vicar of Christ and the leader of the Universal Church, and St. Paul the Apostle, the Apostle to the Gentiles and the writer of the many holy Epistles. Both of these greatest two pillars of the Church died in martyrdom in the Holy city of Rome, made holy because of their blood shed in that city, and the two basilicas were built over their respective tombs.

Most importantly, on this day, by looking at the life and examples set by these two saints, St. Peter and St. Paul, all of us are also called to share in their experiences and to emulate them in their actions. They too were once sinners and weak human beings, but through the Lord and their own faith, they changed themselves to be truly faithful and devoted servants of God.

God did not call the perfect and those who are already awesomely good in life to be His disciples, as they are likely to be already saved and secure in their lives in the world to come. Instead, He empowers those who are weak and fragile, and also calls those who are sinners and unworthy, who by His grace and power, are transformed to be holy tools and servants of His will.

Indeed, is it not better that those who were sinners and unworthy, by the works and graces of God be made to be worthy and just? And that was exactly God had done, wit two of His principal Apostles, the two greatest pillars of the Faith and the Church. St. Peter was a simple, poor fisherman, whose faith was often weak and he often trembled in doubt, while St. Paul was an overzealous and extreme Pharisee, who was hell bent on destroying the Church and the faithful.

St. Peter was called by Jesus from the shores of the lake of Galilee, together with his brother, St. Andrew, who was the first to be called among the Twelve Apostles. St. Peter was a humble and simple fisherman who made his living by catching fishes from the lake. Jesus called him to be a fisher of men instead, and he left behind his net and boat, and followed Him.

Yet during his period of service to God, St. Peter often encountered many difficult moments. Today we heard in the Gospel, of the moment when he and the other Apostles were in the middle of the lake going through a great storm, and the Lord came to them walking on the water. St. Peter was the one who offered to test the Lord to find out if it was truly Him on the water, and when the Lord asked him to come towards Him, he went forth.

But for his lack of a solid faith without doubt, seeing the power of the storm and the waves, he began to falter and sink. Thus, the Lord rebuked him for his doubts after He helped him. And we know of how Peter denied Jesus three times during His Passion. It was also because of the same doubt and uncertainty, which led to fear of the retribution of the world and its powers, which led to Peter to do such things.

But the quality of Peter comes in that, he was courageous and brave, ready to take the initiative, as we know that out of all the Apostles, he was the only one in the boat to seek to walk towards the Lord, even proposing that if He is indeed the Lore, he, Peter would be able to walk on the water. Such an act, does require an incredible amount of courage and faith. Indeed, that faith was to be shaken, but it was there indeed.

And Peter eventually made the thrice profession of faith, after Jesus had risen from the dead, and when He asked him, whether he loved Him more than anyone else. In that profession of faith and love, Peter knew that he was forgiven for his denial of Jesus, and in that also, we can see the kind of faith and love which he had for the Lord, and that was why, he was made to be the Vicar of Christ on earth, and the leader of the entire Universal Church.

Meanwhile, St. Paul was once known as Saul, as a great enemy of the Church and the faithful, as some sort of an executioner, who belonged to the caste of the Pharisees, young and overly zealous, that he was blinded by his rage and youthful pursuits, seeking to destroy the Church and kill as many believers as possible. Thus, he brought the Church and the Lord much sorrow and sadness.

Yet, he was transformed from such a sinner and great enemy, into the greatest champion of the Faith, and into a figure so important and crucial to the growth of the Church and the spreading of the Good News in the early years of the Church. St. Paul as Saul encountered the Lord speaking directly to him and rebuking him for his actions on the way to Damascus, and ever since then, he repented and was converted to the Faith.

St. Paul thereafter became a great evangeliser, who went on many journeys to different cities and places to spread the Good News, and for his works and efforts to spread the Faith to the Gentiles, he was then appropriately titled as the Apostle to the Gentiles. And together with St. Peter, they went on to Rome, the capital city of the Empire, and there they were martyred for their faith. The locations where they were martyred and buried then became the two great Basilicas we know today.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s celebration of the dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul is a reminder to all of us, that God seeks our salvation, and He calls us all to return to Him, all of us sinners that we may be, like St. Peter and St. Paul before us, turn from our sinfulness and path of darkness, into the light and become holy servants following the examples of the two great saints whose memory we remember today.

May Almighty God therefore, with the intercession of St. Peter and St. Paul, be hearkened to strengthen our zeal and faith, so that we may become ever faithful and loving in our lives, that eventually, at the end of the days, when He comes again, He may congratulate us for our dedication and welcome us into His eternal kingdom. God bless us all. Amen.

 

First Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/16/tuesday-18-november-2014-33rd-week-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-the-dedication-of-the-basilica-of-st-peter-and-the-basilica-of-st-paul-outside-the-walls-first-reading/

 

Psalm :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/16/tuesday-18-november-2014-33rd-week-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-the-dedication-of-the-basilica-of-st-peter-and-the-basilica-of-st-paul-outside-the-walls-psalm/

 

Gospel Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/16/tuesday-18-november-2014-33rd-week-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-the-dedication-of-the-basilica-of-st-peter-and-the-basilica-of-st-paul-outside-the-walls-gospel-reading/

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 : 33rd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Dedication of the Basilicas)

Luke 19 : 1-10

At that time, when Jesus entered Jericho and passed through the city, a man named Zaccheus lived there. He was a tax collector and a wealthy man. He wanted to see what Jesus was like, but he was a short man and could not see Him because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree. From there he would be able to see Jesus, who was going to pass that way.

When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, come down quickly, for I must stay at your house today.” So Zaccheus climbed down and received Him joyfully.

All the people who saw it began to grumble, and said, “He has gone as a guest to the house of a sinner.” But Zaccheus spoke to Jesus, “Half of what I own, Lord, I will give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.”

Looking at him Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this house today, for he is also a true son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

 

Alternative reading (Mass for the Dedication of the Basilicas)

Matthew 14 : 22-33

At that time, Jesus immediately obliged His disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowd away. And having sent the people away, He went up the mountain by Himself to pray. At nightfall, He was there alone. Meanwhile, the boat was very far from land, dangerously rocked by the waves, for the wind was against it.

At daybreak, Jesus came to them walking on the sea. When they saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, thinking that it was a ghost. And they cried out in fear. But at once Jesus said to them, “Courage! Do not be afraid. It is Me!”

Peter answered, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You walking on the water.” Jesus said to him, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water to go to Jesus. But seeing the strong wind, he was afraid and began to sink; and he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Jesus immediately stretched out His hand and took hold of him, saying, “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?”

As they got into the boat, the wind dropped. Then those in the boat bowed down before Jesus, saying, “Truly, You are the Son of God!”

 

Homily and Reflection :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/11/17/tuesday-18-november-2014-33rd-week-of-ordinary-time-memorial-of-the-dedication-of-the-basilica-of-st-peter-and-the-basilica-of-st-paul-outside-the-walls-homily-and-scripture-reflections/