Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, "Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!" His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me." The Jews then said to him, "What sign can you show us for doing this?" Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews then said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?" But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, you give me much to think upon with your actions in the Temple. I know it was not a chance event. I approach it with faith in you as the Son of God, my Savior, the Way, the Truth and the Life. I approach you with hope, knowing that your words and actions open to me new truths and an example to follow, though it may at first seem obscure. I love you, for from the beginning of your public ministry you gave yourself wholeheartedly to the task of our redemption, without a thought for your own self or your own safety
Petition: Lord, grant me the gift of true zeal for your word, for your Church, for the salvation of souls. Grant me courage and boldness in living my beliefs.
1. Introduction: the Temple: Today we celebrate the dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica, known as the “mother and head of all the churches.” Jesus’ actions as presented to us in the Gospel speak of two Temples, the one made of Stone that stood in Jerusalem, and the Temple of Jesus´ body. The buildings we call Churches are visible signs of the presence of “The Church”, the Mystical Body of Christ, in the world, and of its lasting endurance over time.
2. Purification: Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace! The commerce carried on in the Temple was very profitable. It started out as an effort to control the quality of the animals offered in sacrifice, out of respect for God, but over time other interests intruded, giving rise to the typical mixture of “wheat and darnel”, fruit of the hold that Christ’s Enemy and the weakness caused by sin have over us. Our actions, no matter how praiseworthy in the beginning, no matter how inspired by God and our love for him, are always subject to decay and hence are in need of continual purification. The only one who can truly purify us is Jesus himself. Only he can take away our sins, he alone is the true model and path we must daily strive to follow if we are to be consistent in our conversion.
The purification that Jesus wants to work in our hearts and lives consists first of all in a “driving out”: driving out from our lives all and everything that is not in accordance to his will. It then entails a “pouring out” and a “turning over”: emptying ourselves of all vanity, materialism, desire for material advantages…, and upending all our previous securities: “blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, the peacemakers, the merciful, the persecuted…”. Let us take a look around the Temple of our soul (in Baptism we become Temples of the Holy Spirit), and ask Jesus what he thinks of our Christian life. How much darnel is there among the wheat, how much self-seeking, how much human security…
3. What sign can you show us for doing this? The onlookers understood that Jesus’ was a prophetic gesture. His demeanor, his zeal, his commanding presence said as much (what ordinary person could dominate such a crowd with his voice and a symbolic whip of a few cords, and do what he did without anyone resisting him?) but they wanted confirmation. And Jesus answered with a challenge of his own, misunderstood by them, but one that would remain etched in the minds and hearts of many, until the day the sign was fulfilled as he rose from the dead. Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up! Christ’s own life is always our example. The reality of his promise is being carried out even today in the lives of Christians throughout the world. The attempt is being made to stamp out Christ and his Church in the persons of our persecuted brothers and sisters in Iraq, Nigeria and many other places. Over and over, however, history has shown that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians”.
But there is also a meaning in Christ’s words that is much closer to home for each one of us. We often feel that following Christ implies the loss and even the destruction of so much; we have to give up so much, change so much, with changes that seem to go to the core of who we are…. It is the new life that we begin living, the new happiness and security that it instills in us which show us that it is truly from God and give truth to the words that “Christ does not take away from us, he gives us more that we can imagine.” We have to be prepared to die to ourselves so as to rise with him.
Conversation: Lord, I believe that you are truly the cornerstone of the Church and of my life. You are more powerful than death, and you give meaning to everything. I promise to take care of my interior Temple, the one that reflects your presence. Give me light to recognize what mars your image in me, and grant me the necessary strength to drive those things out of my life, taking you always as my example and standard.
1. Am I humble enough to accept that there is much Jesus wants to fix in my life?
2. What “tables” do I think Jesus wants to turn over, and what “beasts” does he want to drive out?
3. Am I willing to work with him on this?