Saturday, November 8, 2014

Homily (November 9) - the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica- Fr. Michael Udoekpo

Homily (November 9) - the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica- Fr. Michael Udoekpo
Readings: Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12; I Cor 3, 9c-11, 16-17 and John 2:13-22

We Are the Temple, the Place of God’s Glorious House
Today we celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, originally erected by the Emperor Constantine, consecrated by Pope Saint Sylvester I, as a gift for the Church. This celebration dates back to the Twelve century, and symbolizes the unity of the Church, a paradox of permanence, and a mystery of God’s abiding presence in us. A God who constantly loves us and invites us in mysterious ways to re-dedicate ourselves, families,  and works, to him.

The readings of today, attempt to explain this mystery, that we are God’s house. We are his gifts.  He built us for his living. He expects us to live up to this expectation; to be holy, nice, accommodative, generous, pure, hopeful, resilience, clean in mind and body. That is, be good stewards, after the example of Christ.

Christ, in today’s Gospel, reminds us of this mystery of God’s abiding presence with us. While in Jerusalem, he ran into those who were abusing the temple area, the sacred place, with gambling, perhaps cheating, especially the poor and the weak. He drove them away with a reminder, that God’s house was meant for prayers, healing and forgiveness. He symbolically referred to himself, as the body temple to be destroyed and rebuilt in three days, referring to his death and resurrection.

Similar reference is made by St. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, in the second reading (1Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17), to the Corinthian Church. This church is  God’s building, so also ourselves. We are called to be holy, tolerant, and welcoming to everyone. We are called not only to see Christ in every person, but as the foundation stone of our community.

Christ and Paul, are aware of ancient biblical traditions. Recall, it was in Jerusalem, that David promised to build God a big and nice house.  In turn, God rather, promised to build David, a more permanent, mysterious, and an everlasting dynasty (2 Samuel 7).  David’s promise was fulfilled by his son Solomon, who completed the temple and dedicated it to the Lord (I kings 1–11). But only to be attacked and destroyed by the enemies.  But how can God let his dwelling place, his house be destroyed?  Or be condemned to death? Why? Was it as a result of the sins of the people, especially of the kings, like Jeroboam or Manasseh? Was the covenant broken? But what about the promise of everlasting dynasty made to David?

As Christ symbolically said, with a deeper implication, ‘destroy this temple, I will rebuilt in three days,” God has a way of dealing with his people. The physical temple might be gone but, Israel’s faith and hope in God lives on.

This is true in exile. Hope has arisen in exile. Ezekiel, the prophet of Exile envisions this hope. He sees an image of life giving stream flowing from the New Jerusalem Temple. From this bountiful stream comes life, food, fruits, and healing.

As a church, as a family, as a community or as an individual, sometimes we experience a temporal defeat, disaster, death, or dryness in our prayer or Christian life. We must not give up. The transformation of this dryness or this barren world in the vision of Ezekiel into a garden of paradise is a dramatization of God’s saving power. In Ezekiel’s prophecy, the stream flows because God’s now dwells in the Temple, his glorious house. We are this temple of the Holy Spirit.

 May the stream of love, hope, faith, forgiveness, freshness, dedication and commitments in our various vocations, holiness of life, generosity, kindness, prosperity, good health of mind and body continue to flow in and around us as we fellowship with God and with one another.