An interesting story is told by a tourist who was visiting the Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome, Italy.
Just across the street of the Basilica, at a square, is a statue of St Francis of Assisi…
… with his arms outstretched.
This statue commemorates an important moment in Church history:
>> It was at this place – the Lateran Basilica – that the Great Saint went to ask the Pope for permission to start a religious order.
This was in the light of the Great Inspiration that he had received, when he heard the words of the Lord: “Rebuild my Church!”
The tourist says that recollecting this incident, as he stepped back, to have a better look at the statue…
… from a particular angle, he could see the Lateran Basilica between St. Francis’s outstretched arms
>> St Francis appeared to be holding the Church with his hands!
The tourist says:
“That’s a great image!
>> That’s a great lesson!
A church building is brick and mortar, wood and glass.
>> But – ultimately, it is supported by the arms and the labor of those who love it.
>> The Church is held up by the people who are in love with Christ!”
Yes, the Church is indeed “held up by the people who are in love with Christ!”
We, the children of the Church are today invited, to renew our love for the Lord and grow in our duty, “to hold up the Church”…
… on this Feast Day of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
The Gospel of the Day also vividly and dramatically displays the zeal and passion of the Lord, for the House of God through the incident of the Cleansing of the Jerusalem Temple.
Today, Holy Mother the Church celebrates the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
>> This Basilica is the oldest Christian church building in the world.
>> It is the first permanent, public place of worship for Christians in the world.
Christianity, in its infancy, suffered a great deal at the hands of her persecutors.
The Roman Empire sought to extend its domination over the entire world.
>> The power and might of the Roman Empire was determined to utterly destroy the Christian religion.
Christians, with a staunch belief in Jesus Christ, refused to worship the Roman pagan gods.
This led the Christians to be labelled as the enemies of the state and thus were sought to be eliminated.
>> Christians were arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and even cruelly executed!
This wave of violent persecution crashed against the Rock, the Church for three centuries!
It was only in 312, when the Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity that these persecutions ceased.
>> In gratitude to Christ, the new Emperor Constantine sponsored the construction of Christian churches, the first of which was the Church of the Most Holy Saviour, known today as the Basilica of St John Lateran…
… or simply called as the Lateran Basilica.
On this Feast day of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica, the call of the Gospel is towards examining our relationship with God in the Church.
In the Old Testament, we read that the Lord had established a covenant with His people, Israel.
This covenant had its physical symbol in the Temple of Jerusalem.
>> The majestic and glorious Jerusalem Temple was an external symbol of God’s love-relationship with His people.
Jesus cleansing this Jerusalem Temple, was a strong message to the people, that He had come to revive and revamp the strained relationship between God and His people.
It was also symbolic of the need of the people to realize that the Jerusalem Temple which was to be destroyed in a few decades, was only a temporary symbol.
>> Jesus, Himself is the real and everlasting Temple…
… the permanent symbol of God’s eternal covenant with His people.
And so, He showcases an tremendous zeal and passion, in cleansing the Temple, of all the corruption and filth and fraud!
The Commemoration of this Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica and the Cleansing of the Jerusalem Temple is a call for each of us, to examine our own lives…
Is my relationship with God corrupted by many evil tendencies and pleasurable sins?
>> My heart needs a cleansing drive by the Lord…
Is my relationship with the other, who is also a Temple of the Holy Spirit, badly tainted with anger, jealousy, calumnious thoughts etc…
>> My relationships needs a cleansing drive by the Lord…
Is my relationship with the Church, strained by negative feelings of her dogmas and teachings, and stained by angry-feelings due to many scandals by her responsible authorities?
>> My mentality towards the Church needs a cleansing drive by the Lord…
This Feast is a call to revive our zeal and passion for the Lord, His Mission and His Church.
The Lord’s ways are sometimes very hard to follow and difficult to tread in this highly materialistic and sensational world.
>> But the Lord promises to be with us, in all our trials and hardships.
The Mission of the Lord to spread His Kingdom is a very challenging one and at times, they seem too very impossible and our efforts meaningless.
>> But the Lord assures His ever-abiding presence and love to those committed and faithful.
The Church of the Lord is very often found to wrench in corrupt practices, discouraging scandals, heart-crushing and shameful incidents.
>> But the Lord assures that His might Spirit will guide the Church through any storms and “He will surely write straight… with crooked lines!”
The invitation is strong…
>> To be filled with a deeper love and zeal for the Lord, His Mission and His Church!
Undoubtedly, the challenges are deep…
… the trials seem too discouraging.
>> Yet, with the Grace of God, let us seek to renew our love for the Lord…
… and grow in our duty, “to hold up the Church!”
Happy Feast Day!
God Bless! Live Jesus!