A collection of various works taken from online resources in fidelity to the teaching of the Magisterium and by the authority of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church.

What is the Church?

By: John Bergsma

  1. Feast of St. John Lateran is unusual in the Church’s calendar, because it is a feast for a building rather than a saint or an event in salvation history

  1. Lateran Basilica—dedicated to Christ the Savior in honor of both John the Baptist and John the Evangelist—is the Cathedral of Rome, the mother church of the mother diocese of the world.

  1. holds the cathedra or throne of the bishop of Rome.

  1. Readings for this great feast help us to move from gratitude for treasured physical buildings, like the Lateran Basilica, to reflection on the true nature of the Church.

  1. we call places of worship “churches,” in actual fact the true sanctuary or place of worship is the Body of Christ

1.      Our First Reading is Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12:

a.       Ezekiel beholds a new temple and new land of Israel that God will establish in a future era of peace.

b.      At the time of Ezekiel’s writing, the Jerusalem Temple lay in ruins, having been destroyed by the Babylonians

c.       Ezekiel had preached to the people that this destruction and exile was the result of their sin and abominations against the LORD.

d.      He sees, essentially, a New Jerusalem and a New Temple, and this Temple has the attributes of the Garden of Eden, which was the original sanctuary at the beginning of time.

e.       Ezekiel’s vision would be fulfilled in time, but in a way far different than he may have imagined.

2.      The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9:

a.       a song of praise of the Holy City Jerusalem, which was the special dwelling place of God and site of the Holy Temple.

b.      Gihon was the only continuously-flowing source of water for the city of Jerusalem.  As such, the people of Jerusalem saw it as sacred, a gift from God and sign of God’s blessing to the city.

c.       The spring was named “Gihon” after one of the rivers of Eden (Gen 2:10) because the ancient Israelites looked at Jerusalem as a New Eden

d.      Our “Gihon,” our stream of fresh water to sustain life in time of siege, is the Holy Spirit that flows within the Church, conveyed to us in the waters of Baptism and the flow of Eucharistic blood.

3.      The Second Reading is 1 Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17:

a.       St. Paul uses temple language to describe the Church

b.      The language of the temple is particularly poignant when writing to the Corinthians, since Corinth was renown for its massive temple to Venus/Aphrodite, which was a major center for cultic prostitution.

c.       the body of believers itself is the dwelling of God, not buildings made of stone.

d.      The indwelling Holy Spirit—whose presence in the Old Covenant was limited to the Holy of Holies—now inhabits each believer, making them holy.  The protection God once promised to Zion/Jerusalem now applies to the believer.

4.      The Gospel is John 2:13-22:

a.       Jesus exercises his role as Son of David, because the Son of David was entrusted with the responsibility for building and maintaining the “House of God,” the Temple (see 2 Sam 7:13).  So Solomon built the first Temple, and subsequent Davidic Kings repaired and maintained it.

b.      people of Israel viewed the Temple as the successor of the Garden of Eden and the Ark of Noah, built on the site where Abraham had attempted to sacrifice Isaac

c.       Temple originally contained the sacred liturgical furnishings and vessels made by Moses

d.      the covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David were all tied up with the Temple.

e.       Ezekiel saw a river flowing forth from the New Temple: this is the Holy Spirit that flows forth from the body of Jesus, signified at the cross by the flow of blood and water from the side of Christ

f.       Ancient Jews would recognize the symbolism of blood and water, because the Temple Mount flowed with blood and water at festival time

g.      The blood and water from the side of Christ is a sign of the River of Life flowing from the New Temple

h.      This is Eucharistic blood and Baptismal water, since it is the sacraments that carry the Spirit to us.

i.        The Tree of Life bore fruit from which one could eat and not die—we now have a food to eat which grants immortality, and that is the Eucharistic flesh and blood of Christ.

j.        Eden also had a river that brought life to the rest of the world—this is the Baptismal font, that regenerates the spiritually dead and makes them into children of God.

k.      Physically speaking, our church buildings are the locations and spaces of the celebration of the sacraments.  They “house” the River of Life (the baptismal font) and the fruit of the Tree of Life (the Eucharist).  Therefore it is appropriate to have affection and even veneration for the holy structures that have served us so well through the centuries as sanctuaries where we come into contact with the living God.

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"To condescend to the humblest duties, and to devote oneself to the lowliest service is an exercise of humility: for thus one is able to heal the disease of pride and human glory."

- Decretal on Penance (D. II., cap. Si quis semel)