Christ, Our Cornerstone

Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

November 9, 2019

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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.

john lateran

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.

st j lateran

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

We Are God’s Temple

Friday, November 9, 2018


psalm46 stream

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome.  It’s a big deal feast and, as a young religious, I never really understood why. I thought to myself, “It’s a building, right? Why are we celebrating a building.” As I matured, I learned. 

Perhaps some of you are familiar with Ken Follett’s book “The Pillars of the Earth”. Or perhaps others of you have visited the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain. You may have been, as I was, overwhelmed at the sheer enormity and span of these cathedral-building endeavors which reflect our desire to enshrine God.

What is it in us, as human beings, that will move us to give lifetimes and centuries to capturing God? What is it in us that will try to concretize our awe at the Almighty?

It was just such an inner drive that motivated the builders of the Lateran, the oldest and highest ranking of the four major basilicas in Rome.  This “temple of stones” was understood by its builders to represent the living Church – you and me, who together are built up by Christ into his own Body.

What kind of  temple are we, sisters and brothers – we who are all too aware now of the cracks in our structure? 

We are, as Ezekiel visions and the psalmist confirms in today’s readings, a temple fed by the life waters of God.

Our Gospel shows that Jesus knew and believed this. He cleansed the temple in Jerusalem of its weaknesses. He then compared it to his own body, which is the true dwelling place of grace among us. He asked us to imitate him in the way we treasure and live our lives in this world because we too are Temples of God’s Grace.

A living fountain of grace flows through this living temple. God is in our midst as we build, and rebuild, the Church – brick by human brick.

May this feast renew our hope for our Church, cause us to call upon God for deeper courage, and witness to all the enduring power of faith.

Music:  We Are God’s People – Fred Bock

This is a recently written hymn with an old time kind of sound. 

English hymn text writer, Bryan Jeffery Leech, took the primary theme from Johannes Brahms’ 1st Symphony, 4th movement and wrote lyrics which have become a hymn standard. We Are God’s People is a majestic statement befitting Brahm’s regal theme. Allan Robert Petker has created an anthem setting and has intertwined many of the other themes that Brahms utilized in his 1st symphony.