Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

Lectionary: 671


Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.


You in this passage is the plural case, “All of you are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you all.”
Saint Paul sometimes speaks of the Christian’s individual body as the temple of the Holy Spirit when he exhorts them to sexual purity, but more often he addresses the congregations who heard his letters read to them. He never imagined that someone might claim salvation outside of or apart from the church. His you is always one of us.
We are the temple of the Holy Spirit; we enjoy God’s protection; we are expected to behave as the holy ones. If we reverence massive piles of stone like the Lateran Basilica, we must also reverence the Church and every member. 

There is irony in today's gospel. Pope Benedict XVI pointed out that the early Christians did not seem to miss the Temple of Jerusalem. The Jews among them, throughout the Roman Empire, had been raised to venerate Herod's temple; they hoped to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem as Muslims today make the hajj to Mecca. Many did, of course, as Saint Luke shows us in his account of Pentecost. 

The Roman General Vespasian razed the temple in 70 AD, leaving only a wall, the wailing wall. The tragedy is cited in Luke but only briefly. Apparently, even Jewish Christians had lost interest in the old shrine by 70 AD. Their temple was no longer at the far end of the Mediterranean Sea, it was right there in the Christian community, especially in their weekly Breaking of Bread. 

The Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Lateran Basilica as the Pope's chapel and the Church of the entire Church. It is a house of prayer for all peoples. I've seen the building, and Saint Peter's, on the same day. They are certainly impressive and I would not discourage anyone from visiting Rome, but our weekly pilgrimage to our familiar parish Church is far more important. We don't have to go to Rome or Jerusalem even once in our life; but we must take delight in the weekly, even daily, participation in the Eucharist. 

The Basilica, like your parish church, reminds us of God's presence in our world, and even in our neighborhood. We cannot live without His being close to us. If your parish church were to be swept off the Earth for no apparent reason, you would miss it enormously, and then you'd build a new one -- in three days

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.