FRIDAY HOMILY - It's About a Person More Than a Place
Today we commemorate the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
The history of this amazing basilica goes back to the fourth century, to the the time of Constantine when the emperor gave the palace, which had belonged to the Laterani family, to Pope Miltiades. The palace later became the Papal cathedral and residence during the time of Pope Sylvester.
In the early centuries of the Church, if you were to refer to "The Lateran," it would be the same as saying, "The Vatican" today. It is still ranks above all the other Catholic churches in the world.
Over the centuries, despite destruction from fire, earthquakes and the devastation of war, the basilica remained the home of the Holy Father. In the 14th century the palace fell into complete ruin when the papacy was moved to Avignon for 70 years.
Upon returning, the basilica was re-built in various stages by succeeding popes. While it no longer served as his home and administrative center, it continued as his Cathedral for Rome under a Cardinal Vicar.
The current building was commissioned by Pope Innocent X in 1646 and is one of Rome's most elegant structures. Called the ecumenical mother Church of Roman Catholics, there is a Latin inscription inside, "Omnium ecclesiarum Urbis et Orbis, mater et caput'' ("The mother and head of all churches of Rome and the world").
While today we may think we are celebrating a feast for this place, we really are celebrating a person and our unity with him. As beautiful as this cathedral may be, we fix our hearts on the union we have as the universal church in communion with our Holy Father.
The Gospel reading for this feast day shows a stark contrast between the place and the person. This is St. John's account of the cleansing of the temple, where our Lord drove out the money-changers, who had turned the turned their center of worship into a marketplace rather than a place of prayer.
Jesus used the occurrence to talk about the fact that, as God the Son and head of the Church, he would be their center of worship rather than the temple in Jerusalem, a building that would soon be destroyed. While the Basilica of St. John Lateran would be destroyed and re-built over centuries, Christ's temple - meaning his body, which would be destroyed but raised up in three days, must still be the center of our worship.
Where the Jewish system needed a temple made with human hands as a place where the priests would offer their sacrifices, as priest and sacrifice, Christ would become the one perfect offering for sin.
The temple for his pure offering is the heavenly temple, from which the rivers (as Ezekiel saw) flow out for the healing of nations.
The Lordship of ChristIn this Gospel Passage we are reminded that our hope comes from the lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives. With him, the spotlight of our faith falls not on a structure but a savior. We are to put our trust in him. This is the first and foremost person with whom we build our relationship. This feast day, offered for the church first named "Church of Christ our Savior." reminds us to build our lives on him.
St. Paul writes, "In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace." (Eph. 1:7)
The writer of Hebrews gives us a glimpse of this redemptive work. "But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation, he entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption." (Heb. 9:11,12)
This unity with our Lord can be seen in the basilica through the incorporation of the Scala Sancta (or Holy Stairs). These wooden steps, which have been encased in white marble, according to tradition, are said to be the staircase Jesus walked up to the praetorium of Pilate at Jerusalem at the time of his passion. Walking up these stairs, we are truly on holy ground as each one has been sanctified by the footsteps of Jesus.
Communion with our Holy FatherWe are also reminded today that our life as Catholics is built universally around our communion with the Pope. This basilica is where his cathedra - his throne - has been placed. The cathedral takes its meaning and purpose from this essential fact. It isn't about the building but the bishop.
The Catechism explains ...
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Year of Faith News
- MONDAY HOMILY: I Do Believe, Help My Unbelief!
- SUNDAY HOMILY: The Happy Priest - Come Holy Spirit
- We Need a New Pentecost: Come Holy Spirit, Come With Your Fire!
- Peter and John, Two Pillars and Two Paths
- FRIDAY HOMILY: Follow Me
- THURSDAY HOMILY: Father, May they Be One. Do We Pray and Work for Christian Unity?
- TUESDAY HOMILY: The Response of Faith to Scandalous Infidelity
- WEDNESDAY HOMILY: The Holy Spirit Coaches our Interior to Fight
- Toward Pentecost: St Cyril of Jerusalem on The Living Water of the Holy Spirit
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?