We, the faithful, are the temples of God
Like the walls of Saint John Lateran, God dwells within each one of us
November 9, 2003 -- The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
By Bishop Robert Morneau
Questions for reflection:
1. In what ways can we foster a sense of God's indwelling presence?
2. What is your favorite church structure? Why?
3. What degree of zeal do you have for the house of God?
When St. Paul wrote to the people of Corinth some two thousand
years ago he raised a question that is startling in its
implications and consoling in its truth: "Do you not know that you
are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"
Although we may be ignorant of the fact, the reality is that God
has taken up residence within each one of us.
This weekend we recall the dedication of the oldest cathedral in
the diocese of Rome, Saint John Lateran. This principal cathedral
has been visited by millions of people over the years. More
importantly, within its walls, the Mass has been celebrated,
inviting people ever more deeply into the life, death, and
resurrection of Jesus. God dwells within this cathedral through
word and sacrament; God dwells within each of us through the waters
of baptism and the gift of the Spirit.
A special preface is used for this feast of the Dedication of
Saint John Lateran. Here are four lines from the preface for our
"Your house is a house of prayer, and your presence makes it a
place of blessing." Gracious God, may we always reverence our
parish church for in it you are present with your love and mercy.
No wonder Jesus was so upset when people turned the temple area
into a marketplace. His zeal for you moved him deeply and he
drove out the moneychangers. May we have zeal for your house; may
we recommit ourselves to your abiding presence within us.
"You give us grace upon grace to build the temple of your
Spirit, creating its beauty from the holiness of our lives."
Loving God, you call each of us to holiness, to the perfection of
love that is at the heart of discipleship. We cannot respond to
this call without your help, without your grace. Through your Holy
Spirit we are empowered to become agents of beauty, building up
your dwelling through the good deeds of our lives. Pour out upon us
your grace, your light and love and life. Only then will we be a
fitting dwelling for your presence.
"Your house of prayer is also the promise of the Church in
heaven." Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who sent your prophets
into the world to share with us your vision. Ezekiel was one of
them and he spoke eloquently of your temple as a source of fresh
water, a living water that brings life. When we drink of your life
and love then we shall bear abundantly fruit, fruit that will last
into eternal life. Grant us the grace of prayer so that even now we
might experience the promise of your Kingdom.
"Here your love is always at work, preparing the Church on earth
for its heavenly glory as the sinless bride of Christ, the joyful
mother of a great company of saints." Lord Jesus Christ, the
temple of your body could not be destroyed. Through the mystery of
the resurrection your love is at work and leading us to the glory
of God. You have given us the Church, the great people of God,
those who hear and live your word. Draw each of us more deeply into
the mystery of pilgrim people so that one day we too might share in
the life of the great company of saints. Through the Eucharist you
promise us communion, this great unity and union with God and one
another. For this we give you thanks.
Every five years I have the opportunity of visiting the
cathedral of St. John Lateran. On each of those visits I have felt
the power of the Church, not just an ancient building, but our two
thousand-year history of people who have sought to follow the way
of Jesus. The opening prayer for our feast says it well: "God our
Father, from living stones, your chosen people, you built an
eternal temple to your glory. Increase the spiritual gifts you have
given to your Church, so that your faithful people may continue to
grow into the new and eternal Jerusalem."
(Bp. Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Green