Homily: Feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John the Lateran


+  Pax et Bonum!  Peace and Goodness to you today on this special Feast Day!

We all belong to all kinds of different groups, and clubs, and organizations.  And sometimes the number of those groups is staggering!  We belong to health clubs, and book clubs, and card clubs. We’re in sororities, fraternities, and study groups. We have fantasy football leagues, and fantasy NASCAR teams, and even fantasy pro bowling teams. Can you believe it? It’s true. Google it, …later. Don’t be googling during my homily! We belong to Triple AAA, and the NRA, and some of us are in the AARP. We’re in frequent flyer groups, and support groups, and service groups. We belong to the fruit-of-the-month club, and the wine-of-the-month club, and jelly-of-the-month club. We have a baseball team, and a basketball team, and now a lacrosse team! We have friends and favorites groups on Facebook, and Instagram, and Twitter. Even here at church we belong to the Holy Name Society, or the Altar Rosary Society, or HELP Committee, or the youth group. See what I mean! We are connected. We belong! We are hooked up! And yet there is one organization that all of us belong to, that is bigger, and older, and more important than all the rest. And that’s the Church! Hopefully, our belonging to the Church, is getting us closer and closer to Heaven every day!

And that’s what we want to concentrate on this Feast Day of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John the Lateran’s in Rome. Now, the Basilica of St. John the Lateran in Rome is a beautiful church, a historic church! We could talk about all the relics. We could talk about the huge statues of each one of the Apostles. We could talk about the ceiling that is decorated with so much gold that it actually sags today under the weight of that gold! But today’s Feast Day really isn’t about a building in Rome. Others must be thinking, those crazy Catholics!  There they go celebrating an old building in Rome!  And while we as Catholics do love a good celebration, it is NOT just about the anniversary of the dedication of a Basilica in Rome.  Today’s Feast Day is about us, the real Church. The Church is NOT a building, not in Rome, and not here in Westfield!  The Church is us, all of us, God’s people, working together, to build a Kingdom that is out of this world!

That work is sacred!  That work is the most important thing that we will do with our lives!  That work connects us to God and makes us co-workers with our Lord and Master!  We know the Church was also very important to Jesus Christ.  Jesus called specific people to come and follow Him and even to take leadership positions in His Church.  When, as in today’s Gospel, human beings were turning church, turning the House of God, into something that it was not supposed to be, in today’s case, a marketplace, we see and hear Jesus react with His strongest words and actions of anywhere in the Gospels.  Today Jesus is upset.  He is violent.  He’s turning tables over and kicking people out of Temple.  There’s money and doves flying all over!  And why is this?  It is because Church, the House of God, the dwelling place of God, was that important to Jesus.  He knew that we were going to need to belong to Church.  And He knew that the Church that we would need to belong to, would need to be free of all worldly influences!

My brothers and sisters, this Feast Day reminds us of just how blessed we are to be members of this nearly two-thousand year old Church.  We’ve had good years and we’ve had bad years as a Church, but through it all, the Holy Spirit has kept us together and kept us on track , building the Kingdom of God.  We support one another in this very special organization that from the very beginning was designed by God Himself to help us to get home to Heaven!  We can’t do Christianity on our own.  We need God.  And we need one another.  May we never take being Church for granted.  And may we help one another, to be our best!

In just four weeks, we will celebrate together the 10th Anniversary of the Dedication of our church here at St. Maria Goretti.  We’ve got a long way to go to catch up to the one thousandth, sixth hundredth, and ninetieth  anniversary today of the Basilica of St. John the Lateran.  But it will still be a special day for us.  Not because of a building,  but because of what God has done with His people.

+ May God bless us as Church, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…                                          AMEN !!!

St. Maria Goretti…                                     Pray for us!!!