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The Foundation Was Already There

November 21, 2013

Saturday, November 9, 2013, Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time: Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

Ezekiel 47: 1-12. I saw water flowing from the temple, and all who were touched by it were saved.
1 Corinthians 3: 9-11, 16-17. You are God’s temple.
John 2:13-22. Destroy this temple, and in three days, I will raise it up.

Gospel Reflection:

Praise be to Jesus Christ! For evermore!

This is one of my favorite feasts. That’s right: one of my favorite feasts is for – a building. But not just any building, but the basilica erected by direction of Emperor Constantine. He intended that by celebrating this cathedral, we show our devotion and unity with the Chair of Peter. This feast is a sign for love and union with the See of Peter.

And???? Last week, St. Paul reminds the Ephesians – and us – that in the generosity of God’s plan, they – we – are to be one in Christ, and, as the Apostles take their strength from the cornerstone to provide us a stable foundation, we are all to become “a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph 2:22). That foundation shows itself as the Seat of Peter, the Chair of the Bishop of Rome.

You are God’s building – Saint Paul

In today’s rich readings, St. Paul also reminds us – “You are God’s building”, and the foundation was already there before us! And indeed, Saint Caesarius echos, “The temple of God is holy, and you are that temple. Do we wish to celebrate joyfully the birth of this temple, then let us not destroy the living temples of God in ourselves by works of evil” (Sermo 229). Let us not destroy the living temples of God in ourselves by works of evil. We are called to care greatly for ourselves!

Jesus himself demonstrates how we are to reject the evil that builds in ourselves by reacting violently and righteously by overturning the tables of the moneychangers. And indeed his disciples recall the Words from Scripture, Psalm 69, and “Zeal for your house will consume me.” And indeed we do: We come to His house, we wish to be a part of the foundation of His Church, we sit at His table, and in our zeal, in our faith, we consume Him. We are fed.

How are we fed? Finally, the first reading from Ezekiel. Not only are we to build upon a stable foundation. Not only are we to live in unity, loving one another, devoted to the Word of God, but should we do so; should we achieve that which God wills for us, that this temple – the Church – US – shall bear fruit! We – the temple – will bear fruit for others. Not just at the Harvest. Not just once in a while, but every month. The fruit of this temple, this Church, shall nourish and heal, continuously, lovingly, in life-giving, creative power. Pretty awe-inspiring? You might think, “I can’t nourish anyone, I can’t heal. Yes you can. You can – standing firm on the foundational rock of faith. Faith that will come forth in a time of need like water from the temple, from the altar, as Ezekiel spoke of. And there is nothing more important than water, when one is in the desert.

The Lateran Basislica, the first cathedral built, the first basilica for the heir of the Bishop of Rome is meant to remind us that we are that Church, that is to preserve from evil and nourish and heal others for all-time.

God bless you,
Papa

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