Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
November 9, 2019
Today, in Mercy, we celebrate a rare type of feast day – one that marks the dedication of a church building. For many, that seems a little odd. We are accustomed to celebrating Mary, Joseph and other saints and feasts of Our Lord.
Here’s the thing: we are not actually celebrating a building. We are celebrating what the building represents – the Body of Christ, the Church, made of living stones – us.
But sometimes it helps to have visible symbols of the things we venerate and celebrate. That’s why we have medals, rosary beads and candles – so that we can SEE something as we try to conceptualize a spiritual reality.
St. John Lateran is the Pope’s parish church. Since he is the Bishop of the whole People of God, his physical church has come to symbolize the universal Body of Christ, the world Church.
Pope Benedict XVI in his Angelus Address, on November 9, 2008 said this:
Dear friends, today’s feast celebrates a mystery that is always relevant: God’s desire to build a spiritual temple in the world, a community that worships him in spirit and truth (cf. John 4:23-24).
But this observance also reminds us of the importance of the material buildings in which the community gathers to celebrate the praises of God.
Every community therefore has the duty to take special care of its own sacred buildings, which are a precious religious and historical patrimony. For this we call upon the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that she help us to become, like her, the “house of God,” living temple of his love.
As we pray today, we might want to consider the gift of faith on which our own lives are built – a faith whose cornerstone is Jesus Christ. In our second reading, Paul says this:
Brothers and sisters:
You are God’s building…..
Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
And in our Gospel, Jesus speaks of his own body as a temple which, though apparently destroyed by his enemies, will be raised up in three days.
By our Baptism, that same spiritual temple lives in us and in all the community of faith. That same power of Resurrection is alive in us! So in a very real sense, what we celebrate today is ourselves – the Living Church – raised up and visible as a sign of God’s Life in the world.
Happy Feast Day, Church!
Music: Cornerstone – Hillsong