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Extending Beyond the Physical walls

     Today we celebrate the feast of the Dedication of Lateran Basilica in Rome. At first thought, someone might ask, " Why is the dedication of a basilica celebrated throughout the entire church?" that is a very good question and the answer isn't a short one.

     At the beginning of the fourth century, Christianity saw the light at the end of the tunnel. That light was the Roman emperor Constantine. For the past two hundred years Christians were being persecuted under different extremes by the Roman Empire. Constantine had made Christianity legal again and helped make it the official religion of the empire. During his time as emperor, Constantine built many churches; one of them being, St John Lateran Basilica. An interesting fact is that there is no actual saint named, " St John Lateran" Rather, it was named after St John the Evangelist and St John the Baptist.

    So why this basilica? Well it is considered to be "THE Mother of all Churches" It is the oldest church in the west, even though we don't see much of the age because it was renovated in the 16th century.  Despite popular belief, St Peters is not the Popes Cathedral, St John Lateran, however, is. Before the Avignon Papacy, ( The period of time when 7 consecutive Popes reigned in France and not Rome.) the Lateran Palace was where the popes had resided. However after the avignon papacy the Lateran palace had deteriorated and was no long liveable and the pope moved back to Rome.

     In todays Gospel we hear the reading of the "Purification of the temple." When Jesus flips tables and frees animals, all to free up the space of prayer. Whats interesting is that  John puts this at the beginning of his Gospel where the other three evangelists have this near the end of their Gospel and incorporates it has a reason why the Pharisees want to crucify Jesus. However, John uses this has an introduction to the Jewish people ( the Pharisees) as fierce and opposing antagonists.

    The Gospel begins with the phrase, " The Passover of the Jews was near.." Jesus had made his way, like most Jews, to the city of Jerusalem to celebrate the passover feast. Many people would have gathered in Jerusalem for this feast; especially in the temple. With the greed stricken society it was, many merchants would set up in the popular space, the temple, and try to get as much as they can.  However, they disrespect the space by making it a market.

    But maybe their blindness is less about the market, and more about their reduction of the presence of God into one space. Jesus shreds this blindness by flipping the tables, and freeing the animals. He is opening Gods presence to the whole area of the temple.

    We has Catholics bring it a step further, we  are challenged to recognize Gods presence everywhere and in everyone. For God isn't isolated into a building, into a church. We cannot just leave God at the church; we must bring him into our lives. Christs' church extends father than just the four walls of a church, it is all of it's members.WE need to make the church alive and well outside the walls, through out lives. We cannot abandon what we hear inside, inside. But rather we must live it out and be the sign of Christs
extending love and mercy to others.

   We make up the church, the body of body of Christ. We the faithful, are the living signs of Christ. The second reading today from the letter of st Paul says, " ..you are God's Building." We are each a temple of the holy spirit. We are the breathing, fully living, attentive church of Christ on earth. Each of us. We already have a solid foundation: Christ himself.

   Has we celebrate the feast of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, may we come to  and relive the history of our church. To know that our church has the foundation of Christ, and forever, this foundation has been solidified and unshocken, For even in the times of persecutions Christianity still stayed alive (it thrived actually.) May we come to appreciate the Mother Church: both the Lateran Basilica and Christ.

    May we come a build the church outside of it's physical walls. May we come to preach the faith not only through our words but through the actions we can confidently, due through faith, because of the firm foundation.

Have a wonderful Sunday!




   

   

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