Temples of the Holy Spirit
Today’s feast is something unique and out of the ordinary. We are not celebrating a saint or honoring our Blessed Mother. Today we celebrate the Dedication of a Church, the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome. Why are we celebrating this feast? It is because the Basilica of St. John Lateran is the cathedral of the diocese of Rome, the official ecclesiastical seat of the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, not St. Peter’s Basilica as so many mistakenly believe. The Basilica is also called the Church of Holy Savior or the Church of St. John Baptist. In ancient Rome this was the church where everyone was baptized. It the oldest church in the West, built in the time of Constantine and was consecrated by Pope Sylvester in 324. This feast became a universal celebration in honor of the archbasilica, the ecclesiastical mother church, called “the mother and head of all churches of Rome and the world,” as a sign of love for and union with the See of Peter.
“Zeal for your house will consume me.” These words from Psalm 69:9 was recalled by the disciples of Jesus, when they saw Him cleansing the Temple. We recall that the Temple is a place of encounter. It is called as the dwelling place of God that is why it is considered as a holy and sacred place. In this place God encounters His people and the people also encounters Him more closely. The encounter leads to worship and praise to the One who wishes to be with His people. Jesus went to the Temple in order to cleanse it. He saw that instead of it becoming a place for worship and encounter with God, it became like a market place where business is transacted and some sort of corruption and cheating also happened. This was how Jesus showed His zeal and love for the house of God, the place of encounter with His people. For us, how do we take care of the places of encounter with God?
The Second Reading today reminds us that by virtue of our Baptism we are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in us. Reflecting on the act of cleansing the Temple by Jesus reminds us that the Lord is also doing a sort of cleansing in us in order to bring us back to our original dignity as the temples of the Holy Spirit where God dwells. It is like our Lord is asking us if we have made our lives a place of encounter with God or a market place where sin dominates. Who are we worshipping: is it God or ourselves instead?
As we celebrate today’s Feast, let us look at how we are living as the temples or dwelling places of the Holy Spirit. May we allow the Lord Jesus to enter our hearts and minds to remind us and bring us back to the reality that our life is a place of encountering the Lord for we are His dwelling places too today.
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