Wednesday 09 November 2022 – A CHURCH WITH EQUALITY- Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

32nd Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Ezk 47:1-2, 8-9, 12

The angel brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the façade of the temple was toward the east; the water flowed down from the southern side of the temple, south of the altar. He led me outside by the north gate, and around to the outer gate facing the east, where I saw water trickling from the southern side. He said to me, “This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah, and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh. Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh. Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”

2nd Reading: 1Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17

Brothers and sisters: You are God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

Gospel: Jn 2:13-22

Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me. At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his Body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.

A CHURCH WITH EQUALITY: The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica is remembered today. The first basilica, on this site, was built in the fourth century and the present structure was built in 1646 and is considered as Mother of all the Churches. In the gospel, Jesus cleanses the Jerusalem temple saying, “stop making my Father’s house a marketplace”. Sometimes the Church is turned into a place of business. As for an example, for conducting liturgical services, money is charged. On 28.01.2021, the Bishops of the Philippines decreed to give up the anti-poor practice of demanding money for sacraments. Though one can understand that money is needed to maintain the priest/parish, sacraments cannot be denied to the poor who cannot pay.  The Church has to be an instrument of grace and salvation for all the faithful. What can we do towards realising this? We shall pray that the Church may become the house of the Father.

Prayer: Merciful God, let your church be a center of worship for all.

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YOU ARE GOD’S TEMPLE: Each and every one of us is God’s temple. Saint Paul reminds us that “the temple of God, which we are, is holy” because God made our human hearts His dwelling place and our bodies the temple of the Holy Spirit. But how many times do we trample down this holiness by making our bodies a marketplace through genital mutilations, fornications, etc? Today Jesus invites us to stop making our bodies a marketplace but to respect our bodies and allow God’s holiness to flow from us to the world and give back hope and life to people around us just as, in the temple vision of Ezekiel, water flowed from the temple to refresh the sea and give life to every kind of creatures that can multiply. Let us also make ourselves holy by doing good deeds.

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GOD PITCHES HIS TENT IN HUMAN HEARTS: “Zeal for your House will consume me”, was not just a crazy feeling for a brick and mortar structure. True, the Temple counted big in His scheme of things. But more significant was the allusion to the “Body as the Temple”. St Paul affirms this fact of God’s temple and wants this to be well taken care of. This House of God built on the foundation of Christ is your commitment. Let every believer take himself no less than God’s dwelling place, and every effort must be undertaken to build and decorate that structure and never demean it. Oh! How wonderful to note: human beings raised to such an exalted existence.

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SACRED SPACE: On feasts and commemorations of the dedication of churches, such as today, the Word of God invites us to appreciate the importance of sacred spaces in our lives. In all religious traditions, there are sacred times and sacred spaces that offer a possibility for human beings to raise their minds and hearts to God. In some traditional African religions, there were sacred shrines. In the gospel today, Jesus not only invites the people to honour the sacred space of the temple, but equates his own body to the Temple of Jerusalem. That is the attitude that we have towards the physical churches in the Catholic tradition today. Our churches are not just halls for worship, but they represent the body of Christ, and they house the body of Christ in the Eucharist. Let us once again remind ourselves of the sense of awe and reverence that this sacred space raises within us!