Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Dedication of the John Lateran Basilica

Readings: Ez 47:1-2, 8-9,12;1Cor 3:9-11,16-17; Jn 2:13-22

Zeal for your house will consume me, destroy this temple and I will raise it up. These are the key words that help to capture the central message of this Sunday. This Sunday we commemorate the Dedication of Saint John Lateran Basilica in Rome. What is the Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica? It is the feast that commemorates the oldest and principal Cathedral in the Diocese of Rome, first dedicated on November 9, 324 A.D. It is the mother church of all churches and the Seat of the Bishop of Rome. Today's First Reading from the Book of Ezekiel speaks of the stream of life-giving water. Ezekiel “saw water flowing from the temple and all to whom that water came were saved." This marvelous river contains an abundance of fish and on its banks grows every kind of fruit tree. Some of the trees have leaves which serve for medicine. The water which flows from the temple sanctuary has great power. Our parish had its Commitment Sunday four weeks ago. There is a connection between the first reading and stewardship. Your commitment of financial resources enables our parish to fulfill the mission, vision and purpose of Jesus Christ. It also brings blessings to you and your family. In the first reading, Ezekiel describes a vision of water trickling from the Temple. He goes a thousand cubits (about 500 yards) and the water reaches his ankles. Another thousand and it’s knee-deep, then waist deep and finally the river is so deep he has to swim. So it is with our stewardship of treasure. It may seem small, but if we give from the heart, if we love God's Temple, our solidarity will grow and become a mighty river whose waters bring about spiritual nourishment. Our families, our ministries will become powerful instruments of evangelization, healing and compassion.

In the Gospel Jesus sees the money changers and animal merchants, and he is infuriated by the lack of respect for the temple area. Like the prophet Ezekiel, Jesus held the temple in great esteem. He called it “my Father’s house.” More than anyone else, he fulfilled the scripture words, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” In these words Jesus makes a double claim about his own identity: 1) that the time of fulfillment has come when there will be no need for merchants in the temple area; and 2) that God is his Father. When asked for a sign to prove his claim, Jesus speaking in the temple area responds metaphorically: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” John tells us that Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body, foretelling his own resurrection. He was speaking about the new Temple, the Resurrected Christ. The feast of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome is truly a feast of Life. The good news that inspires our zeal as stewards is our faith and hope in the resurrection. The temple in Jerusalem was the seat of Israel’s religious life, but Jesus announces an even more abundant life – his body as temple that will be raised up after three days. This abundant Life is foretold by Ezekiel in the first reading. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) The feast day of our mother church in Rome calls us to a zeal that will consume us when we as disciples and stewards give our lives for others as Jesus did. 2) Our stewardship of time, talent and treasure will help our parish become a mighty river whose waters bring about spiritual healing and nourishment. 3) The good news that inspires our zeal as stewards is our faith and hope in the resurrection. 

©2014 John S. Mbinda

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