Friday, November 9, 2012

Gospel Reflection

November 09, 2012
Friday – Year of Faith

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

by Rev. Fr. Generoso "Gener" Geronimo (Episcopal Vicar for the Diocesan Clergy
Bahay-Pari, San Carlos Pastoral Formation Complex, EDSA Guadalupe)
Lunch Mass at Megamall, Chapel of the Eucharistic Lord

Reading 1 Ez 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."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9

R. (5) The waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High!
God is our refuge and our strength,
an ever-present help in distress.
Therefore, we fear not, though the earth be shaken
and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea.
R. The waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High!
There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,
the holy dwelling of the Most High.
God is in its midst; it shall not be disturbed;
God will help it at the break of dawn.
R. The waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High!
The LORD of hosts is with us;
our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
Come! behold the deeds of the LORD,
the astounding things he has wrought on earth.
R. The waters of the river gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High!

Reading 2 1 Cor 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.


Brothers and sister, what does 'sacred' mean to you? What is your sacred place?

Today, we celebrate the Feast of the dedication of St. John Lateran. In the calendar of the church, we celebrate the memorial of the saints or the feast of the saints. They are persons. But today's celebration is very different. We are not celebrating a person, although it is named after a person, St. John the Baptist.

What we are celebrating today is the Feast of a church, an edifice that is located in Rome. And perhaps you wonder, why is this feast very important to us Catholics? When we think of the Pope in Rome, we could not avoid thinking of the magnificent Church of St. Peter's Basilica, with its big dome and huge columns. And when we see that church, we always tell ourselves, "That is our church." There is a sense of owning. We say that it is the center of our Catholic faith. But the truth is, it is not. And this brings us to the importance or the significance of our feast today.

For us to understand why we are celebrating today's feast of a church called St. John the Lateran Basilica, it is good for us to look into the historical background of this Church. Unlike us today, we are celebrating the mass in this church, in this chapel, in this edifice. But the first Christians, in the years of persecution, did not have temples. They did not have churches. They did not have places of worship, or public places to gather, to worship, to celebrate the mass or the Eucharist. They even gathered secretly for worship - in homes, in farms, in barns, and even in cemeteries.

But in the year 313, the Roman Emperor Constantine became a Christian. He, thus, granted religious tolerance to Christianity and eventually, freedom. It was the time for the Christians to worship their God publicly. And since the Christians can now worship openly and publicly, they needed to build their own temple or church. A place in Rome - a palace, in fact, in Rome - formerly owned by the Laterani family, was used by Constantine, and his mother, St. Helena, as their palace or their residence. They turned a wing of that palace over to the church, making it the first public church in Rome, wherein the Pope presided in the Eucharist. Eventually, Constantine gave the palace to the Bishop of Rome, to the Pope, who presided and resided there. It became the Pope's first official church, and it is named the Church Basilica of St. John Lateran. Why Lateran? It is because it is an honor given to the Laterani family. This is the first reason why we are celebrating today's feast. It is because that Church is the first public church of all Christians, of all Catholics.

The other reason why it is significant is this. If you go inside the Church, you will see a writing inscribed in the door of the Church. It reads: "The Mother Church of Rome and of all churches in the world". It is the Mother Church; our Mother - the Mother of all churches all over the world. It is our Mother Church. It is the parish church of the Pope, and the Pope is the parish priest, until now, of that church. And that is why during Holy Thursday evening, it is the Pope who presides in the celebration of the Last Supper Mass in the church.

Memorial places are not only historic places. They are sacred places as well. The ancient people marked places as sacred, or as a birth remembrance. This brings us to the fact that we are all invited to make a sacred place in our own homes. Just recently, I celebrated a blessing of a home and at the rooftop of that home, I was told by the owner that the last place that will be blessed is a chapel. Which means they have allotted a place of worship, a place where family can gather, a place for God. I think that is something important.

But more than that, more than a physical place, we ask God, 'what is God's dwelling place'? If we say, do I know a sacred place, and see yourself considering a place as a sacred place, thanks be to God. But if you ask God, "what is Your sacred place, God?", God will look into your heart and say, "That is where I want to be. That is my sacred place."

My dear brothers and sisters, today, we celebrate the Mother of all churches, which means even the church that is within our heart, is centered in that place, for God. Let us preserve that place. Let us always talk to God, worship God, in that place where God is truly present, and that is within our hearts, Amen.

You may also want to see: A Holy Life - Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

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