The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
St. John Lateran, Mother of all Churches
We have celebrated our feasts of the dead as we join with nature who changes her gown for the season of death. Days grow short, the soil does not give the gift of food, flowers and trees do not blossom. When darkness surrounds us the most, a Savior is born. And death will bow out when a full moon announces a springtime with new life and we celebrate the victory of Life over death and sin, Jesus’ resurrection.
If we are attuned to this line of music in the great symphony of the liturgy we can see the dedication of St. John Lateran, Cathedral of Rome, and mother of all churches, in a symbolic way. The Church is our home in the overwhelming darkness. There are a variety of readings but listen to the comfort and energy of the responsorial psalms!
My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord,
Even the sparrow find a home, the swallow a nest for her young.
I rather one day in your courts, O Lord, than a thousand elsewhere. Ps 84
Be it ever so humble there is no place like home. Our little churches are a bit empty, the young elsewhere, the traditional has lost its spirit. Around us there is a struggle of faith, some are bruised and questioning. The old Cathedral of Rome remembers the Pope, Gregory who told those who fleeing Rome as the barbarians approached, that he would remain. ‘Look, here are the statues of the holy ones, the graves of the martyrs. We ask their intercession and protection’. Over there, Laurence the deacon was ordered to hand over the Church’s treasures. The officials were not impressed when he gathered the poor and sick, the widow and orphan, those whom Laurence cared for.
“Behold the treasure of the Church”. The parishioners of our diocese.
The cathedral of Rome tells us the poor are rich, seemingly lost we are close, even in failure we are near victory. How? Simply approach the banquet table that groans under the weight of the richness that is Christ, the Spirit guides us, and God is merciful.
Happy are they who dwell in the house of the Lord
My heart and my flesh cry out for the Living God. Ps. 84
Comforted in darkness, yes, but we are also impelled to go out comforting others, like the pilgrims going to Jerusalem in psalms 95 and 122 today.
Let us glorify the Lord; In his hands are the depths of the earth the tops of the mountains are his. He is our God and we are the flock he tends.
How many people cowering in the darkness of their homes would love to peel back the curtains to see and hear and join a procession moving through darkness to light?
When tired for being tired psalm 122 arouses us
I rejoiced when they said we will go up to the house of the Lord…
To give thanks to the name of the Lord, Peace, I will pray for your good.
Grace calls out to us in darkness. The church that is the mother of all of our little churches, our domestic churches, is a home to darkness. And remember, we should always listen to mother!
Fr. William Murphy, CP is the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Jamaica, New York.