Scripture Readings: Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9; 1 Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17; John 2:13-22
My guess is that some of us may be asking this Sunday, “What has this Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome, Italy have to do with us?”
First some background:
- John Lateran was the First Christian Basilica
- It was the Residence of the Pope for many centuries
- It is the Cathedral Church of Rome
- It is the Mother Church of all Christianity
- And rumor has it, that Pope John the 23rd in the early 1960’s was interested in moving his residence to that of St. John Lateran and not live at the Vatican (St. Peter’s), but that never happened…
Also, for those who have visited St. John Lateran, or when you do go to visit sometime soon, not to be missed is the hexagonal Baptistery – which was the only one in all of Rome for quite some time. (When in Rome at St. John Lateran, read today’s First Reading from Ezekiel. Then your Baptismal promises and if you need a tour guide, I am available for an appropriate fee.)
Today, we celebrate more than a Church or a sacred building.
Today, we celebrate the people of the past, the people of the present, and even the people of the future, baptized believers whose presence makes St. John Lateran and any church a place that is holy and of beauty.
In this era of church closures, church consolidations… In this era of decreasing church attendance… We are reminded that the church building is not the “end all and be all” of our Faith.
+ First, our faith and our Church is “built on Jesus Christ.” Jesus is the foundation of the Church, Jesus is the head of the Church. And we are the Body; we are “God’s Building.”
+ No doubt a church building helps us be the community of faithful followers of Jesus we are called to be. But in the end, this building – this Church – is holy because “the Spirit of God, is within each of us, all of us.”
+ Churches close because we have forgotten that we are responsible for being holy places, for being Church, where others find God.
+ When you and I, when others, cannot find God in every member of this church or any church, it just may be time to turn the lights off and lock the doors forever.
+ But, we are very much aware of the necessity for each of us, starting with those who are here in this church and in every church of our Diocese and world this weekend – to continue in giving collective witness to integrity, to justice, to mercy, to love to all in the world – beginning right here at home, at work, at school, at church…
+ Let us pray today for each other, as brothers and sisters In Christ, and pray especially today for Pope Francis, that he may inspire believers everywhere to holiness, humility, and humor as we witness to the love of God in this world.
+ As one author who wrote a book about being engaged Catholics and an engaged church shared, “we need to stop ‘doing church’ and ‘start being the church’ again.”
+ And as another Pastor shared, “we need to consciously develop our gifts for service to the Kingdom of God by welcoming others and growing in friendship. From there we need to continue to share our gifts, talents and treasure. It is then that others will come to know Christ.”
+ May everyone always feel more than welcomed In this Church every week… may we make one another feel WANTED in this Church, and in the process may they and us continue to find God…