This weekend we celebrate the dedication of the Popes cathedral, St. John the Lateran. Although the basilica of St. John Lateran is the cathedral of the Holy Father as Bishop of Rome, today’s liturgy focuses not on the Petrine ministry but on the place of God’s house, the temple.

We no longer look upon stone edifices is see God’s presence on earth, but upon the broken body of Jesus on the cross. He is both the high priest and the acceptable offering to God.Paul’s message continues this truth. We are living stones forming a building. This building is of living stones: it is built of our lives and in our relationships.  God’s presence according to Paul is through us. We are built on the foundation of Jesus’ message but we must be careful as to how we build. As we live out our lives we grow individually energized either by the Spirit of God or by the spirit of the world. The Spirit of God unites, forms us into a single building. The spirit of the world destroys unity and forms warring camps where each competes with other for power, wealth, influence and pleasure. So we must be careful how we build our life. The image reminds us that we are not the total building in ourselves. In connection with others we form an edifice that is more expansive, of greater beauty and majesty than one person can attain.  We are the presence of God to one another through the Spirit that dwells in us and energizes and directs us.

So, what is the answer to why we celebrate the dedication of a building in Rome? The building becomes for us a sign and a symbol.  It is a sign of God’s presence in the world, housing its peoples, providing shelter in storms and coolness in the heat. It is high on a hill that is visible for all to see and for all to take hope for its strength.  It is a symbol of those who believe and work to grow in faith and in hope and in care and concern for God’s creation, especially humankind. It rejects no one, opening its arms to embrace not only the privileged but also the ordinary persons.  Even the miserable beggar, the leper, the ones ignored and forgotten, the drunkard, the prostitute, the thief and the murderer are welcomed here and find a place where they might be healed and find life.

So today we should be able to say that we reject no one and embrace everyone as we live out our lives we grow individually energized by the Spirit of God instead of the spirit of the world.


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