31st Saturday in Ordinary Time
Dedication of the Lateran Cathedral
Ezekiel 47: 1-2, 8-9, 12; 1 Corinthians 3: 9c-11, 16-17; John 2:13-22
Today we are commemorating the dedication of the Cathedral of the Most Holy Savior and of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist in the Lateran. The Lateran Palace (known as the house of Fausta) was presented to Pope Miltiades circa 313. He transformed the palace into the chancery of the diocese of Rome and the papal residence. He dedicated the cathedral to Christ the Savior. In 909 Pope Sergius III rededicated the cathedral to St. John the Baptist. In the twelfth century, Pope Lucius II again dedicated the cathedral, this time to Saint John the Evangelist. Thus Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist became patrons of the basilica along with Christ the Savior. The Lateran is the oldest public church in the city of Rome. It is also the oldest basilica in the Western world. Because it houses the cathedra of the Universal Pontiff, it has the title of Ecumenical Mother Church of the Catholic Faithful.
In 324 Pope Sylvester presided at the official dedication of the cathedral church, changing it from the House of Fausta to the House of God. Within its walls, the universal shepherd would gather his flock. Christ is the Gate who protects his pastures and the shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. He knows his own and his own know him. They give themselves over to his care as he sheers them of all their sin and leads them to bathe in the life-giving waters of baptism (CF Song 4:2). As they come out of the waters, he clothes them in garments of light.
Christ the Savior of the human race is at the center of the Church, drawing us to His Sacred Heart. From His pierced side flows the stream of living water and the blood that washes away our sin. The church, overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, becomes the virginal womb wherein the Word again takes flesh in each one of us. He uses us to declare the Father’s abundant love for the world. United to Christ, the Rock of our faith, we are transformed into living stones that the Spirit uses to build up a spiritual house for a royal priesthood to offer sacrifices acceptable to God (CF. 1 Pet. 2:5).
Whenever we gather within the walls of the church we are the living stones that Christ fits together on the foundation of Peter’s profession of faith. The master architect uses us to form the structures that find their strength by resting on Christ, the capstone. Standing in the Church of the Savior, calling upon the patronage of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist we are surrounded by a huge crowd of witnesses. “Let us strip off everything that slows us down, especially sin that ensnares us. Let us keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in” (Heb. 12:1).
“We are on a journey; we are on a good journey. And we are increasingly understanding what it means to walk together; we are understanding what it is to discern, what it means to listen, what it means to incorporate the Church’s rich tradition in critical moments”(Pope Francis). By the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we have been made one in Christ who “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, and He sustains all things by the power of his word” (Heb. 1:3). Let us trust in Him who is a firm, abiding and immovable Rock. Let us allow Him to fashion us into a house of prayer to the glory of the Father.