I Saw Water

(Feast of Dedication of St. John Lateran)

Today we celebrate the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. From the readings we can gain some sense of the importance of this feast. In the Old Testament lesson, the prophet says,

“I saw water flowing out
from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east…” (Ez 47:2)

The trickle of water was not a natural phenomenon. The prophet walks a thousand cubits (about five hundred meters) and the water is ankle-deep. He goes another thousand cubits and it is up to his knees. Another thousand and it reaches his waist. But when he walks a final thousand, it has become so deep that he can only cross it by swimming.

This marvelous river contains an abundance of fish and on its banks grows every kind of fruit tree. And, he says, some of the trees have leaves which serve for medicine. (v.12) The water which flows from the temple sanctuary has great power.

Like the prophet Ezekiel, Jesus held the temple in great esteem. He called it “my Father’s house.” (Jn 2:16) More than anyone else, he fulfilled the scriptural words, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Now it is true that for us Christians, the new locus of worship is not the temple, but rather Jesus’ body. (Jn 2:21) The whole meaning of the Mass is that by the power of the Spirit we participate in Jesus’ sacrificial death. Still, we need a physical building, a space set apart, to perform that sacred act.

Today’s feast honors a specific church, not the largest, not the most beautiful in Christendom. Yet, because it is the cathedral church of Rome, it bears the title Omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput. The mother of all the churches in the city and in the world – and their head.

In an age of social and moral disintegration – which has deeply wounded even the Body of Christ – we need to immerse ourselves in that healing river – flowing from the house of God.


Versión Castellana

From Archives (Homilies for Dedication of St. John Lateran):

Solidarity Week 2
Worth Fighting For
I Saw Water

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Sunday Homilies

Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)

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