Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica.  The Lateran was built by Constantine in A.D. 324 or so.  It is considered the mother church of Rome and the world.  As it is a feast there are two readings and the Gloria.  My homily is below followed by a few photos.

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica  
Ez 47:1-2,8-9,12
Ps 46: 2-3,5-6,8-9
1 Cor 3:9c-11,16-17
Jn 2:13-22

Water.  The source of life. The slaker of thirst. Everything on earth depends on it.

Water  Intertwined in all of human history both violent and peaceful.

Water.  Flowing from the Temple in the eschatological promise of Ezekiel. 

Water. Making glad the city of God in the Psalm.

Today's feast is a sign of devotion to, and unity with, the Chair of Peter which, St Ignatius of Antioch noted, “presides over the whole assembly of charity.”  Today we do not celebrate a church building as the name of the feast would seem to indicate.  We celebrate the Church.

We celebrate the Church into which one enters exclusively through the waters of baptism The Church which can have no other foundation than the one that is already there: Jesus Christ. . . . the foundation from which and from whom living waters flow in all directions to all peoples;  if they choose to bathe in those waters.   If they are willing to drink of the living water that Jesus offers. 

Jesuit Father Stanley Marrow gives a trenchant comment on today's gospel. “One incidental and puzzling aspect of the narrative is how generation after generation can read or hear the account itself and yet persist in clinging to their cherished image of Jesus.  They cherish an image of Jesus so 'gentle and mild' as to be incapable of overthrowing anything, not even the reader’s smugness. . . . The Jesus in the pages of this or any other gospel is not exactly a standard-bearer for bleeding hearts . . . .the aim is not to provide us with the biography of an inspiring hero, proportioned to the size of our ambitions, conformed to our ideals, and meeting our currently prevailing notions of what constitutes greatness.”

The elemental nature of this feast, as reflected in the Gospel, reflects the elemental nature of water.  Without water human life cannot exist for long. Without zeal for God’s house, without zeal for preaching His word, the Church cannot exist. 
Nighttime photography is fun and frustrating.  A tripod is an absolute necessity.  If not a tripod then a sturdy wall.  The first photo of hotels at Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan used the latter method.
I did buy a tripod in Australia.  The investment paid off the night of the St. Ignatius Feast at Milson's Point with the following photo of Sydney Harbor and the Opera House. 

The next two are peacocks near Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan.  They knew I was impressed.  Just check out those expressions. 

 Autumn is a lovely time in D.C.  The leaves change much later than in New England.  These are from sunrise this morning.  The first shows fog lifting from the Potomac with the Washington Monument (still closed) in the distance.  
And finally the trees in the small lawn in front of the Jesuit Residence.  Over twenty years ago I bought mom six of the red bushes called burning bushes.  The turn a spectacular crimson color as the weather turns cold.  These things can grow to tremendous size if not trimmed.  
Will be in Plymouth over the weekend.  Another homily in the offing and perhaps some photos.  
+Fr. Jack, SJ

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