Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9,12
1Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17
John 2:13-22

THEME OF THE READINGS: “ The Church as the place of worship should be given a priority in Christian life.”
Today we celebrate the dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome simply because it is the head and mother of all churches in the World. As we celebrate this feast one might ask himself/ herself that why are we not celebrating this feast to be of St. Peter’s Basilica instead? According to the Catholic tradition, every bishop has a cathedral and the Pope’s cathedral is the Basilica of St. John Lateran and not the Basilica of St. Peter.
As I pointed out at the beginning one may ask why this feast is not dedicated to St. Peter’s Basilica since he lives next to St. Peter’s Basilica? With this History gives us the answer. In past centuries Christians in Rome were  not valued and as the result many Christians suffered martyrdom . After the emperor Constantine converted to Christianity  he allowed Christians to practice their faith in Public. Constantine had been given a palace in Rome that belonged to Lateran and after his conversion he gave it to the Pope. The Lateran palace was then adopted to become a Church and was dedicated on November 9th 324, then  afterwards the Pope lived in the Lateran Palace as it was called, for the next 1000 Years  the basilica was his Cathedral. It was first called the basilica of the savior but later was dedicated to St. John the Baptist and St. John the evangelist and so it acquired the name Basilica of St. John Lateran. When the Papacy transferred to Avignon for about the century the condition of the Lateran deteriorated so much that when the papacy returned to Rome  the Pope lived in two other locations before finally settling adjacent to St. Peter’s Basilica where he now lives.
We can say that the church having been suffered many attacks and injustices may be interpreted as a symbol of the attack on the church and the hatred of some for the church. According to historical account of the attack on the church it may be said that it was attacked twice by the vandals in the year 408 and 455. It was totally destroyed by an Earth quake in the year 896 and it was also destroyed by fire in the year 1308 and 1360. The Basilica nowadays has become a pilgrimage center and a tourist attraction whereby, thousands of people every year visit it. In fact this act symbolize the love of so many people for the church.
Celebrating this feast of Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, also is an invitation for the unity between the Pope and the Christians, our love for him and respect for him. Also in celebrating this feast, it is an invitation also that we are united with each other in the church of Christ.
When we celebrate its dedication to God, therefore, we celebrate the mystery of God’s special presence and indwelling in buildings set apart for divine worship, including our own Parish Church. As we celebrate this feast we are also invited to have this idea in mind that the Church as the sacred place of worship. Nowadays some Christians have lost completely the sense of the church as the place of worship, as the place where we encounter God. Many Christians nowadays have forgotten the tradition belief that the church is a sacred place, instead this traditional practice has been abandoned by few members of the church, without forgetting this includes dressing code, dressing in a dicent manner, liturgical gestures like one to sign himself/ herself with holy water placed at the entrance door of the church before and after the mass, the manner of receiving the holy Eucharist, that is the body of Christ, genuflecting before the tabernacle etc all of these in some occasions are no longer observed by the faithful Christians. The feast of the dedication of the temple conveys both the idea of the temple’s sacredness, and also the need for constant purification of the structures of our Church. From our readings more especially from the gospel we hear Jesus in the temple driving out those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeon, and on top of that driving out money changers at their business and making a whip of cords, he drove them all with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and poured out   the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables and he told those who sold the pigeons, “ Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume you.” The challenge with our readings today is that, as the church how are we able to convince people to have this zealous spirit of remaining in the church? Let’s make our place of worship not the place of trade.
This act of Jesus to drive away all sheep and oxen business men and turning the table of money changers symbolically implied the destruction of the Jerusalem temple and the cleansing of the temple in Jerusalem. More on that, the act implied the purification of both Jewish way of worship and practices as their spiritual way of life. Jesus is elevating the rest of Christians to the high level than that of Jews. In short act of Jesus driving the business men out of the temple was an act of purification of Jews based formalities of worshiping
We are God’s building; we are the living temples of God. Each of us is one of the living stones in the temple of God. None of us is the whole temple: I am not. You are not. Pope Francis is not. But each of us and all of us together build up that temple that is Christ’s body. The church, the body of Christ, never exists for itself alone, but always for others. Saint John Henry Newman said in famous quote “ I sought to hear the voice of God and climbed the topmost steeple, But God declared: “ Go down again –dwell among the people.” The Church is called to be ever faithful to Christ. The Church is called to be his witnesses and bring about his Kingdom. As unique parts of the Church, may we all play our little part in building it up here on earth.

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Chapisha Maoni