Homily: Coming Home

November 9, 2014    Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome  –  Ezekiel 47: 1-2, 8-9, 12   1 Corinthians 3: 9c-11, 16-17     John 2: 13-22    (Message Bible)

Coming Home

This weekend the Church interrupts the flow of the church year with a world-wide Mass of celebration of the Lateran Basilica of St. John, the Cathedral church of Rome and the official residence of the Pope as the bishop of Rome.. Personally, I have never quite understood why this one church merits such special recognition in the liturgy of the church year — until this week. I decided to look it up on the internet.

I found out three things of special interest. It is considered the home church of the Pope. And so, it shows our link with the Catholic church throughout the world. Secondly, as a person interested in genealogy, the site can be traced to the 2nd century. The ruins of a roman fort and the palace of the Lateran family still lie underneath this church. And finally, I looked at pictures of this magnificent church online in Virtual Reality. It is unbelievable. If you get a chance, do so. As a member of St. James parish, where next week we are celebrating the 145th anniversary of the founding of our parish, the return of our church and school alumni, and the 85th anniversary of this beautiful church building of which we are so proud, it makes much more sense to me now. But our focus today is the Word of God we hear today.

In our first reading, Ezekiel has a dream about water flowing from beneath the entrance of the temple. Wherever the river flows, it brings life. It nourishes fruit trees that line its banks that are watered by the flow from its sanctuary, whose fruit serves for food and its leaves for medicine. What a great image of the purpose of our church building and its people! To feed and to heal. And in doing so, we give our Glory to God.

St. Paul says it more directly. “You are God’s building”, he says. Jesus Christ lays the foundation and each must be careful how you build upon it. For we are all holy temples of God’s Spirit, who dwells in us.

In the Gospel, Jesus goes up to Jerusalem to celebrate the festival of Pentecost. When challenged to defend his outrageous action of clearing the temple, Jesus replies, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” His hearers think he is speaking of the temple in Jerusalem, which had been under construction for forty-six years. Only after Jesus rose from death, did his disciples realize that he had spoken about the temple of his body.

In our gospel today, Jesus refers to the temple in Jerusalem as ‘my Father’s house’. That God manifests his presence in visible signs is at the heart of biblical revelation. The book of Genesis celebrates the creation of the entire universe as the construction of a beautiful temple in which God dwells and must be glorified. And God continues the revelation of divine presence in the events of history, and even in

human structures — in the ark of the covenant leading the Jewish people through the wilderness, and in the temple Solomon built in Jerusalem.

In Jesus, that God lives among us in visible signs reaches its climax. Jesus is the temple in which “the whole fullness of the deity dwells”. The theme of the divine presence extended as in a rich tapestry even further as Jesus identifies his body with the new temple promised, and in turn his body is identified with the Church and with each individual member of the Church. “Do you not know, Paul says, “that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

The Book of Revelation completes the theme of ‘temple and divine presence’ to the fullest depth imaginable. In the end time of eternity, all earthly temples will be no more because God will be the temple. “I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb”, it tells us.. Now we are temples because God lives in us. Then, God will be the temple because we will live in him. Annie Dillard once remarked, “Home is the name of God.” And because this is what we believe and hope for, this image of the Temple can also help us have a new name for dying — Going Home, to God our temple and our place of security and rest.            Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B.


No comments yet

Comments are closed