Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it.” (John 2:19)
Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. The name of the Basilica is derived from the Laterani family, on the site of whose palace the Basilica stands (The original church building was adapted from the hall of the palace). Constantine presented this palace to the Church. This Basilica has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. It has been the Cathedral of Rome since the Fourth Century.
Our celebration today allows us to reflect on the meaning of “Dedication” and its impact on our relationship with God. To say a building or any object is dedicated to God is to say such can never be used for any purpose other than for God. A dedicated Church building is a place to meet God.
Walking into a dedicated Church fully conscious of God’s presence is like stepping into heaven. Ezekiel describes the house of God as a place from which grace, power, life, health, and wealth flow like a river. At the time of Jesus, many failed to treat the temple as God’s house but turned it into a centre for commerce. Hence, Jesus drove out from the temple to those transacting business.
Jesus said: “You shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” It is God’s house, not a market square. The chief priests wanted to know where Jesus got the authority to cleanse the temple. In response, Jesus predicted his death and resurrection: “Destroy this temple, and in three days, I will raise it.” In other words, “If you want to know how authentic I am, kill me, and in three days, I will rise from the dead.”
Jesus did not only prove that He is God, He also taught us that our bodies are temples. If a water of blessing issues from God’s sanctuary (as Ezekiel describes) and I am a temple of God, what kind of water issues from my sanctuary? Am I a blessing to the world? Have I abused my temple as the chief priests did to the Jerusalem temple?
It is time to pick up a whip and cleanse my inner temple. It is time to train my mind to focus on things that are befitting of God’s presence. If I treat my body as God’s temple, I will enjoy God’s protection. St. Paul says: “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are.” (1 Cor. 3:16-17)
_Saint of the Day:_ Today, we remember a saint whose life resembles St. Paul, who turned from persecutor to promoter of Christianity. Saint Theodore Stratelates was a Roman army general who converted to Christianity during severe Christian persecution. Twice, he was arrested for professing the faith, and each time, he refused to reject Christ. He was tortured and killed by having his flesh torn off.
Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, deepen my respect for your temple. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: Ezekiel 47:1-2,8-9,12, Ps. 46:2-3,5-6,8-9, John 2:13-22).*
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu