Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran
November 9, 2014
ONE FOR ALL; ALL FOR ONE!
There are many ways to approach the readings of today. Two are readily available at hand. The first is to focus on the righteous anger of Christ, directed against those who have turned the temple into a marketplace. Indeed, one artist by the name of Alfonso Osorio depicts an “angry Christ” in the Church of St. Joseph the Worker in Victorias City, Negros Occidental. Another is to focus on the readings’ spiritual meaning for us here and now, and therefore, to see beyond the material temple that Jesus the Lord was speaking of, towards our self-understanding as collectively, the new “temple” that offers worship to the God Christ felt righteously angry for.
The first is enveloped in layers of hermeneutical nuances that would make this reflection more a Bible-study session than an exhortation. The second is what seems to be indicated by our needs for here, for now.
We all look for a rallying point, something, some place or someone we can all identify with, for us to have meaning in all we do and who we are. For serious mountaineers all over the world, the ultimate rallying point, of course, is Everest. For all serious climbers, their motto could as well be: “Never rest, till Everest.”
We Catholics also have a similar rallying and reference point. We have Churches all over the world now, but tradition and early Christian history continue to offer the Church of St. John Lateran as the “mother of all Churches,” the original and still actual Cathedral of the Pope as Bishop of Rome.
But that piece of Christian trivia is hardly worth celebrating and gushing for. A historical datum, no matter how important, will be good only to know and remember, not to celebrate for.
We celebrate something more. And for us to know why, we need to look at the spiritual symbolisms and their respective meanings that jut out of the readings. Ezekiel talks about “life giving waters” coming from the temple. The second reading speaks about us becoming and being “God’s building” – nay, even the “temple of God” where the “Spirit dwells.” And the Gospel passage, more than reporting about the controversial “angry Christ” really refers more to the temple of his body. He actually used the anger as a stepping stone to teaching his followers about Him being the promised and awaited Redeemer, who has come to fulfill what Scriptures of old prophesied.
The burden now, is on us … Do we remain in our superficial and meaningless anger about many things, or do we use our anger to energize us to do the right things and to do them rightly, for God’s sake, not ours? Are we to remain like the dry Arabah desert that is lifeless, or are we to bear fruit in plenty for the life of the world, like Christ did? Are we, for that matter, to remain in our fractiousness and divisiveness instead of becoming one Body, one Bread, one People, one Church, and one Community of believers?
The Church of St. John Lateran stands as eloquent symbol of what we are called to be – to Oneness in Faith and in life. St. John Lateran, “mother of all Churches,” is one for all. And we are called to rally behind her, behind our Mother Church, and become All for one … one faith, one baptism, one Church, with one God and Father of all.