The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica – November 9th

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The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica – November 9th

Readings: Eze 47:1-2, 8-9, 12; 1 Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17; Jn 2:13-22.     

1/ Reading 1 (Eze 47:1-2, 8-9, 12): 

The angel brought me
back to the entrance of the temple,
and I saw water flowing out
from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east,
for the façade of the temple was toward the east;
the water flowed down from the southern side of the temple,
south of the altar.
He led me outside by the north gate,
and around to the outer gate facing the east,
where I saw water trickling from the southern side.
He said to me,
“This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah,
and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh.
Wherever the river flows,
every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live,
and there shall be abundant fish,
for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh.
Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow;
their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail.
Every month they shall bear fresh fruit,
for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary.
Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”

2/ Reading 2 (1 Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17): 

 Brothers and sisters:
You are God’s building.
According to the grace of God given to me,
like a wise master builder I laid a foundation,
and another is building upon it.
But each one must be careful how he builds upon it,
for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there,
namely, Jesus Christ.

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.

3/ Gospel (Jn 2:13-22): 

 Since the Passover of the Jews was near,
Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,
as well as the money-changers seated there.
He made a whip out of cords
and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen,
and spilled the coins of the money-changers
and overturned their tables,
and to those who sold doves he said,
“Take these out of here,
and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
His disciples recalled the words of Scripture,
Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him,
“What sign can you show us for doing this?”
Jesus answered and said to them,
“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
The Jews said,
“This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,
and you will raise it up in three days?”
But he was speaking about the temple of his Body.
Therefore, when he was raised from the dead,
his disciples remembered that he had said this,
and they came to believe the Scripture
and the word Jesus had spoken.


 Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, OP.

I. THEME: The individual, familial and Church’s temples always need to be purified!

Today, the Church memorizes the day of building St. John Lateran church, one of the four main churches of Roma, the principal living place of the pope, Bishop of Roma, more than 1,000 years, from 350 AD until the Popes’ exile in Avignon (~ 1350). Like Jerusalem temple, the Lateran’s Basilica was also destroyed and rebuilt many times because human sins and shortcomings; but is still remaining until today.

Today readings concentrate on people must always purify all temples from the sins’ dirtiness because they are God’s dwelling places. In the first reading, the prophet Ezekiel saw the vision about the future of the Jerusalem’s temple: Water from the temple’s right side flowed out much water to the point that it becomes a river flowing to Jordan river, and then to the Dead Sea. Wherever it flows to, it heals all people’s sickness and brings life for them. This vision wants to say about the Church’s extension from Jerusalem to all the world to bring God’s salvation to humankind. The water of Baptism has power to purify sins and brings life for human beings.

In the second reading, St. Paul advised the Corinthian faithful that they must always review their individual temples which are their souls, God’s dwelling place. After he laid the firm foundation for them on Christ, they must examine the way they build their house to see if they are worthy of Christ’s foundation. In the Gospel, St. John reported Jesus’ purification of Jerusalem Temple, His Father’s dwelling place, since people made the Temple to become the dirty place by buying, selling and exchanging money for their profit. When was questioned with what power He did such thing, He answered them that they could destroy “this temple” and in three days He will rebuild it. The disciples understood that Jesus implied “this temple” is His body after He resurrected three days after death.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ First reading: “Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh.”

1.1/ Water flow out from the right side of the temple: The temple in Ezekiel’s vision is Jerusalem Temple. The prophet sees “water flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the façade of the temple was toward the east; the water flowed down from the southern side of the temple, south of the altar.” According to the Temple’s topography, the south-east of the Temple is the Kedron valley, used to be dry so one can cross from the Temple to climb up Olive Mountain as Jesus and His disciples might do so after finishing their Last Supper to go up to Mt. Olive to pray. Today vision is very strange because it is hardly possible for water to fill up the Kedron valley so that it can form a river to flow to Jordan river and then to the Dead Sea. Many scholars see this vision is the symbol of the Church’s development from Jerusalem and extending to all Gentiles nations.

1.2/ The effects of water are healing and giving life: The second strange is the Dead Sea used to be so salty that not a living thing can live in it because it has so much salt. In today vision, the prophet Ezekiel described: “This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah,
and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh. Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh. Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.” If we symbolically understand the water is the Baptismal water or the Holy Spirit, this water indeed has strength to purify, to heal and to sanctify those who believe in Christ.

2/ Second reading: None can set a foundation except the foundation was already set up which is Christ.

According to Paul, when one receives the sacrament of Baptism, that one has laid his life on Christ’s foundation; therefore, he must build his house which is his life in the way that will be worthy of Christ’s foundation since his house is God’s dwelling place. All Christians must frequently examine their house to guarantee that it has qualities as God’s temple. If it is not, their house shall not stand before all storms and challenges of life.

In the Letter to the Ephesians, the author compared all Christians as living members of God’s temple, Christ; this temple was built on the foundations of apostles and prophets with Christ is the cornerstone. The Church, including all Christians, must frequently examine their life to guarantee the holiness for the temple where God is dwelling.

3/ Gospel: “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”

3.1/ Jesus’ reaction when He saw His Father’s house becoming impure: The report of Jesus’ cleansing the Jerusalem Temple were reported by all four evangelists (Mt 21:12-13; Mk 11:15-17; Lk 19:45-46, Jn 2:13-22); but John’s report is set at the beginning of Jesus’ mission while three Synoptists’ reports are set at the end of Jesus’ mission and this event is the reason for the Jews’ angry and accusation with the Sandherin. Why is there this difference? The main reason might be John wanted to show his theological viewpoint about Christ, that is, Jesus clearly realized His role as the Son of God when He himself claimed the Jerusalem’s Temple is His Father’s house by telling those who sold doves: “Take these out of here and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” Moreover, He also wanted to teach people how to worship God purely and according to the truth, not to depending on unlawful and unrighteous money.

3.2/ The argument between Jesus and the Jews: Seeing Jesus’ action, the Jews angrily asked him: “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”

Jesus wanted to imply “this temple” which is His body; but the Jews think it is the Jerusalem Temple, so the Jews said to Him, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,
and you will raise it up in three days?” They thought Jesus was exaggerating; but Jesus’ disciples only understood this point as the Gospel said: “when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.”

APPLICATIONS IN LIFE:

– Our body is the Holy Trinity’s temple, is built on the foundation which is Christ. We must frequently examine to protect its quality and to be worthy of God’s dwelling place; if not, it will become the devil’s place because God and devil can’t live with each other.

– Our family, parish, community, and the Church are also God’s temple. The Christian duties are to care and to purify all are in our capacities for them to be worthy of God’s dwelling place, and we shall receive all graces of the Holy Trinity.

  

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