Tìm Kiếm

9 tháng 11, 2014

Homily for The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (November 9, 2014)

Dedication of St. John Lateran
          (32nd Sunday in Ordinary time) 

There are four great basilicas in Rome, namely, St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major. Among these four, St. John Lateran is the oldest and the first built in Rome. It was built by Emperor Constantine the Great in 313. Being called the Church of the Savior, the Mother and Head of all churches, it is the cathedral of Rome and the official residence of the Pope, the symbol of unity of the Catholic Church.

A church must be dedicated when it is newly built, and must be re-dedicated if it is profaned and defiled by such crimes as murder or fornication. The book of Macabees recorded such a re-dedication. Antiochus, the pagan king of the Greeks, invaded Jerusalem. He made the temple of God into a temple of pagan idols. He profaned, defiled and desecrated the altar and everything on it : holy vessels, cymboriums, candlesticks.

So, when Judas, the leader of Israel, defeated the invaders and recaptured Jerusalem, he ordered the purification of the temple and re-dedicated to the worship of God. (In 1976 there was  a shooting inside the church of St. Vincent on 3 Thang Hai street, district 10 that killed several persons. The church, thus desecrated, was sealed and closed for many years. Only until 1982 was it purified, re-dedicated and re-opened for public worship!)   
If a material temple made of stone and brick must be cleansed in order to be a place of worship, how much more should  our souls be purified to become the dwelling place of the Holy Trinity. St. Paul said : “You all are living temples of God, because you have been purified and dedicated to God when you  received baptism.” Being temples of God, our bodies and souls are to be used for no other purpose than for the service of God alone. So every time we commit a grave sin, we profane that temple and turn it into the temple of idols and of the devil.

Christ went into the temple and began driving out those who were selling and buying there; he upset the tables of the money changers and pigeon sellers and said :” Does not scripture say my house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples? But you have turned it into a robbers’ den!”  (Mk 11 : 15-18).  Let us try to keep our personal temple immaculate and beautiful. And if ever we profane it by our sins, do not forget to go to confession, so as to make it clean and beautiful again.

Fr. Joseph Nguyen, O.P.