Tuesday, 9 November 2021 : Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we all celebrate together as the entire Church in honour of the great Mother Church of the whole world, namely the Papal Basilica of St. John Lateran, also known as the Lateran Basilica or by its full name as the Papal Archbasilica of Our Most Holy Saviour, of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist at the Lateran, the Mother and Head of all the Churches in the City (of Rome) and the World. That Basilica of St. John Lateran has such a singular honour because it is the church where the Cathedra of the Pope is, and as such, it is the Cathedral of the Vicar of Christ.

All dioceses in the world have a church in which the bishop’s seat or throne is located at, also known as the Cathedra. This is where the name Cathedral came from, designating the church in which the bishop presides over the entire diocese, as the seat of his authority and also as the mother church of the entire diocese. That church is known as the cathedral of the diocese, and the Diocese of Rome, of which the Bishop is the Pope himself, also has a cathedral, namely that of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which feast of its dedication we are celebrating today.

And because the Pope as the Bishop of Rome by the virtue of his position as the successor of St. Peter the Apostle as the first Pope and Bishop of Rome, and as leader of the entire Universal Church, therefore, the Cathedral of the Diocese of Rome has a most special significance, not only as the mother church of the entire Diocese and city of Rome, but also as the Mother Church of the entire world, highlighting the Pope’s special and most important role in his Petrine ministry as the Vicar of Christ and leader of all of God’s faithful people.

That Basilica of St. John Lateran is therefore dignified as the only one in the world to hold the title of Archbasilica, as the chief and mother of all churches, surpassing in honour of all the churches and houses of the Lord in the entire world. Many people thought that the Pope’s Cathedral and seat is at the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican, the largest and most majestic of all the churches, but that is because the Pope resides in the Vatican City, and he celebrates most of the liturgical events in that Basilica. The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican is no doubt the second most important due to its location, being built above the location of the martyrdom and the tomb of St. Peter himself.

But the Basilica of St. John Lateran is where the Cathedral of the Pope has always been, since it was built as one of the first churches to be established after the official toleration of the Christian faith by the Roman Emperor, Emperor Constantine the Great. It was established as the first major church buildings built in Rome after centuries of persecution which saw Christians being hunted and oppressed, forced to hide in the catacombs and practice their faith in secret. The church that was to become the Basilica of St. John Lateran therefore in way became a symbol of the triumph of the Christian faith, and became the seat of the Pope as the Bishop of Rome.

And what is the dedication of a church? It is the moment and special occasion when the building of the church is consecrated and sanctified by God, as a place of worship and as a place worthy to be the house of God, as the place where the Altar of the Lord’s Sacrifice would be established and placed, worthy for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In the dedication of a church, the church building and especially the Altar is blessed and sanctified, made to be worthy of the Lord’s Sacrifice in the Mass. The relics of saints, at least one of a martyr are placed in the Altar, in memory of how the early Christians celebrated the Mass in catacombs on the tombs of the saints and martyrs.

On this day, as we rejoice in the memory of the great dedication of this most magnificent and worthy House of God, the Mother Church of all the whole entire world, all of us do not in fact just celebrate the dedication of this great House and Temple of God. As we heard from the Epistle of St. Paul to the faithful in the city of Corinth, one of the first readings used today, all of us God’s faithful people are in fact also the Temples of the Holy Presence, the Temples and dwelling place of God that He Himself has sanctified and marked through the Sacraments we received.

How is that so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because just as the church is blessed with holy water during its dedication, thus we have also been washed with the waters of the Sacrament of Baptism, and anointed with oil just as the Altar that is consecrated is also anointed with oil, and had white cloth put over it just as we have also been clothed when we were baptised, and we have also received the light of Christ, the same light placed upon the consecrated Altar. And we are also incensed just as the Altar is incensed.

What is the significance then? All of us are the Living Church of God, the living members of God’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Body of Christ. All of us are united as one people and one Church, as one community of the faithful. We must not limit our understanding of the Church merely to the buildings and the structures, or just to the hierarchy of bishops and priests, as all of us are also part of that same Church, all united together in our faith in God, and all journeying together in faith.

Just as the churches are holy and a place made and kept worthy for the worship of God, as St. Paul had also said in the reading today, all of us are also called to maintain ourselves in a state of purity and holiness, so that our lives and our bodies, our whole beings may remain in a state that is worthy of God, for God Himself dwells in us, through the Eucharist, the Most Precious and Holy Body and Blood of the Lord that we have received and partaken, and through the Holy Spirit that He has sent down upon us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore walk with faith in God’s presence, and do our best as we celebrate today’s Feast of the Dedication of the great Basilica of St. John Lateran that we will always strive to live a holy and worthy life, where our faith became evident in our lives and actions. Let us all serve the Lord faithfully in each and every moments of our lives from now on, and may God Who lives and dwells in us, give us the strength and courage to carry out our duties as faithful and dedicated Christians in our world today. Amen.

Tuesday, 9 November 2021 : Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (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 making a marketplace of My Father’s house!” 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 Scripture and the words Jesus had spoken.

Tuesday, 9 November 2021 : Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (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 YHVH of hosts, the God of Jacob, our refuge. Come, see the works of YHVH – the marvellous things He has done in the world.

Tuesday, 9 November 2021 : Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (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 eastward. The Temple faced the east and the 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 seawater 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.”

Alternative reading

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

But you are God’s field and building. I, as 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 (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.”