9 November 2014
1 Corinthians 3:9-11,16-17
A Temple not built by human hands…
The Basilica of St John Lateran is the cathedral of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome who is the Pope.
It is the oldest and ranks first among the major basilicas in Rome. It is named as “the Mother and the Head of all the churches of the City and of the World”.
It is built on the site previously occupied by two monasteries – one dedicated to St John the Evangelist and the other to St John the Baptist. In ancient Rome the Laterani family had a palace there. Hence the name.
The Basilica is in fact dedicated to The Most Holy Redeemer. Today’s feast honours that dedication. This feast is rich in symbolic meaning for it seeks to express the unity of Catholics throughout the world with their spiritual leader, the Vicar of Christ, the Pope.
Churches today, just like the Temple for the Israelites, are an expression of God’s presence among his people. Of course the church in this sense is the people of God. But the actual buildings help us to visualise God’s presence and express that presence among us. In the Old Testament this was expressed in the time of Moses by the “tent of meeting” and later by the great Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. But always these temples and churches made by human hands are at the service of the temple not made by hands – God’s people.
Fr Tom Curran SMA, FVC Director – Dublin.