Today is the feast day of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome.
You may be wondering why we are even celebrating a building; well there are several reasons. First his Basilica is known as the Cathedral Church of the Pope who is the Bishop of Rome. Some even describe this Basilica as the “mother of all Churches.” Second, it represents the universal body of Christ.
The building was dedicated in the year 324 over the site of the remains of the Castra Nova Equitum Singularium which was a fort in the year 193. A palace was build later in its place. When Constantine became emperor and converted to Catholicism, he gave the property as a gift to the Pope who scholars believe was Pope Miltiades at the time.
The first reading tells us of a temple an angel takes Ezekiel to. This temple has water flowing from it, especially the near the altar. The water is fresh water that flows like a river and empties in the sea which has salt water. The fresh water coming from the temple purifies the sea by pouring fresh water into it deluding the sodium in it. Because of this, many wildlife come and multiply. Since the water from the river is clean and fresh, it helps produce trees with fruits and vegetation of different kinds. This allows for easy access to food and leaves which are used for medicinal purposes.
Here we see a glimpse of the Temple of Jerusalem; the dwelling place of God. This imagery of water flowing by the altar is also connected to Jesus Himself (John 19:34, John 4:10-14). The water that flowed from the heart of Christ washes us of our sins, or the salt that contaminates the sea. Water is a sign of life. Without water, no life would be possible on Earth. This is why water is the most important compound scientists look for in their search for life elsewhere in the universe.
The theme of water and the dwelling place of God (the temple) continues in the responsorial psalm. In the psalm we read of how God is our strength and refuge. Nothing brings us fear because God is with us and cares for us. We are part of this city of God (Revelation 21:3). The temple is not a literal structure made of stone, but Christ’s body Himself which we join when we are baptized in water and the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13).
In the second reading, we are reminded that we are part of this temple of God. We are “God’s
building.” St. Paul reminds us that we are the temple of God where the Spirit of God dwells. This is why we must care for our bodies and our entire being, not only physically, but also spiritually. When we sin, we destroy this temple of God and push away the Holy Spirit which leads to self condemnation. Many atheists erroneously believe God sends us to hell. He does not. We do! Our sins push God away because they are a statement of disobedience and rejection.
Finally in the Gospel, we read one of my favorite Gospel passages where Jesus gets upset. He finds money-changes and others selling in the temple area. This infuriates Him and He goes about with a whip driving out these people and overturning their tables. Talk about a smacketh down… Jesus did this to show that the temple of God is a sacred place and that it must not be defiled. This passage not only tells us of an event that happened in time, but also happens allegorically. Since we are the temples of God, or God’s building, it is Christ who enters and removes the bad from us by “whipping” us into shape and overturning the tables we place within ourselves, so to speak. In the Gospel, Jesus also reveals that He is the true temple that will be destroyed but rebuilt by Him in three days. Those around Him had no clue what He was talking about and thought He was referring to the stone building which took decades to build. However, He was referring to Himself who would be crucified but would resurrected on the third day.