Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle
Mass for the Dedication of St. John Lateran and for the soul of the departed clergy and consecrated Persons of the Archdiocese of Manila
November 9, 2018
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we thank God for bringing us together as one community on this celebration of the Dedication of St. John Lateran.
This is the Basilica which is also the Cathedral of the Church of Rome, it is the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, and so we are celebrating today our communion with the whole church in the ministry and the service of the local Church of Rome and specially of the Holy Father.
And this coincides with our annual celebration or commemoration of our departed bishops, priests, religious men and women and also our lay collaborators.
So the readings are not about the dead, they are the readings for the feast of today, the temple.
Many of us would probably not have the chance to go to St. John Lateran, the basilica. I’m sure some of us have already been there, and some even a number of times, but what is the significance of the feast of the dedication of a church which many, most Catholics will not have a chance to visit?
Hanggang postcard nalang siguro nga para sa iba or photo. Why, why should we in Manila and in other parts of the world celebrate the dedication of this church in Rome? This is an opportunity for us also to reflect on the spirituality of the temple.
This is not just about a building, this is the temple of God, and the beauty of our Christian faith and scriptures is that symbols are multi-layered.
Symbols are open to a wealth of meaning and significance. Of course the most obvious is the building, the temple that the prophet Ezekiel in the first reading also talked about.
The temple which is the dwelling place of God, a place where people come home, to glorify God, to remember God, to listen to God’s word, and from that temple, blessings, living water would flow, water that will make life productive, water that will bless creation, water that will feed humanity.
So the temple in our case the church is not just a building, it is about the power of God to recreate life.
It is a place of encounter where life is rejuvenated, where people are sanctified and where God is glorified.
That’s why the blessing and the dedication of a temple, of a church is really a feast, it is not just a building, it is about an encounter that gives life.
But Jesus in the Gospel gives another dimension to the temple, by doing something drastic, He drove away those who are selling oxen, sheep and doves, these are all necessary materials for the sacrifices in the temple, these are materials needed to render to God worship and He also drove away the money changers, but you needed them so that the pilgrims would change their money and buy the animals needed for the sacrifices.
But by driving them away Jesus is telling them, “you don’t need those sacrifices and if you don’t need that sacrifice, then you don’t need this temple, you can destroy this temple and I will raise it again.”
He has shifted the meaning of sacrifice and temple to another venue, another space, and it is Himself, His body.
You don’t need doves, oxen, rams, you have a body and Jesus offered His body, His blood. Not the blood of goats, not the blood of lambs, His own person.
And He also became the temple because He is the sacrifice pleasing to God, where the sacrifice becomes personal and not just ceremonial exterior but personal then the person is indeed the locus of offering and sanctification.
So we have a new temple, Jesus, and He makes His body available to us by being part of the body of Christ especially in the Eucharist, in baptism, by being of service especially to the poor, we become part of the body of Christ.
That’s why St. Paul in the second reading can really talk of the church, the body of Christ as the living temple, but we become the body of Christ if we enter Christ, and with Him form the living temple called the church.
St. Paul declares, if anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. The temple of God is not there to be destroyed, the temple of God is there to enter, and we enter not just the building, we enter Jesus, we enter His heart, we are transformed as we enter Jesus, and we enter Jesus we become His body and hopefully as the body of Christ the living community, many people will be sanctified, many people will be able to render God fitting service.
So okay naman magpagawa ng simbahan at kailangan, pero kung may pagkakataon na hindi na tayo makakapagpagawa ng building, and’yan naman ang buhay na templo, si Hesus, pumasok tayo sa kan’ya at tayo ang buhay na templo.
Magastos magpatayo ng building ha, ang daming fundraising n’yan, pero yung pumasok kay Kristo at maging buhay na templo, wala kang babayaran d’yan.
Pero yun ang hirap na hirap tayong gawin, at yun ang hindi popular, kasi walang etiketa.
“This wall was constructed, thanks to the donation of Mr. and Mrs. ganyan”, kasi kapag pumasok ka sa katawan ni Kristo na templo, wala yun.
So today we are invited to go back to that fundamental reality as we commemorate the dedication of that Mother Church that serves the universal church in charity, we are invited, we enter Jesus, His body and we become the body of Christ the Church and hopefully many people will find in our community as they enter us not just the building but enter us our community.
May they find a home, may they find sanctification, may they find justice, truth, mercy and love, may they find peace, may they find God dwelling among His people.
And it is in this spirit that we also thank God for the Bishops, the priests, the religious men and women and even our lay collaborators who have offered their lives unto death strengthening the living body of Christ.
Inviting many people to be living stones, we remember the many baptisms that they have performed, the many homilies that they have delivered to inspire people to enter Jesus, we remember the sisters who have visited homes, provided medical care, a consoling presence to those who are grieving so that they will feel the embrace of the living body of Christ, the temple of the spirit, we remember our lay collaborators who maybe have spent more time with us than with their families, and through their humble contributions have strengthen the community, the body of Christ.
So this are not to memorials that need to fight, the dedication of St. John Lateran is also a good day to thank God for the witness and the mission of many men and women who have strengthened the body of Christ, who have contributed to its mission to welcome many people so that they would be sanctified and offered to God fitting worship.
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