Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12 1 Corinthians 3:9c-11, 16-17 John 2:13-22
The story of the cleansing of the temple is told near the end of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In those gospels this act of Jesus was the last straw for the Jewish leaders. John puts this story at the beginning of his gospel. From the start of his ministry Jesus was at odds with the religious leaders. For the Jews the temple was the holiest place on earth. There God dwelt in a very special way. There was where the sacrifices were offered to make requests of God and to atone for sin. The Jewish priests and other religious leaders were responsible for maintaining civil order especially in Jerusalem. They also collected the taxes that supported the Roman troops stationed in the country. By cleansing the Temple Jesus let the Jewish and Roman leaders know that he was challenging their practices and their motives. Jesus was in trouble from the start of his ministry. Jesus’ mission was to breathe new life into the Jewish religion. It had become a religion of laws, punishment, and neglect of the poor. In today’s epistle Paul tells us that we are, “God’s building.” He goes on to say that, “…like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how they build upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.”
Our second reading leaves out several verses after these in which Paul says, “If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, the work of each will come to light, for the Day of Judgment will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire [itself] will test the quality of each one’s work. If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a reward. But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire.” During the past 2,000 years the church has been tried by fire many times. Sometimes we have righted ourselves and returned to the example of Jesus
and sometimes we refused to acknowledge the wrongs that were done in the name of Jesus. I believe that, in our day, the church is once again being tried by fire. Sometimes I wish I could live another 2 or 300 years. I would love to know the outcome of our current crises. But I know this will not happen, so I rely on Paul’s words at the end of today’s reading, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.”
Let us remember that we are holy and let us stay close to Jesus, our foundation.
Mary Keefe, OP