Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica, Feast

Basilica of St. John Lateran

Sister Bridge Kiniry shared this preaching at today's liturgy in Dominican Convent.

The Lateran Basilica—How much can we say about a building dedicated in 324? Yes, it is a special Church with a lot of history. But how inspirational is that for most of us?

Let’s look at the word CHURCH. It can mean a building or the core members. We speak of the “teaching of the Church, but it can also mean us…the people of God. Looking at all the scriptures proclaimed in today’s Liturgy, the word  “Church” is freely interpreted as a temple, holy city, refuge, and a consecrated house. In 1 Corinthians 3, Saint Paul calls us each a building of God, a temple of the Spirit.  How then shall we talk about THE CHURCH?

It seems very timely that we are in the midst of the Synod, and we do want to look at what we are learning about the Church today. I looked to our Dominican brother, Timothy Radcliff as a guide. But something was nagging at me for attention before I got to the Synod, and it was an old phrase: “Our Church.”

For how many years did this mean our parish church? People would say, “I live in St John’s.” There was a belonging, a loyalty, a pride, a part of our home. What has happened to “our Church?”  What brought about this change?  Perhaps urban renewal, relocation to the suburbs, and those who either wanted to see change in the church or wanted to prevent change. Unfortunately, division became more pronounced as people struggled with other issues in their lives such as war, the economy, legalized abortion, and the availability of birth control. The division deepened in the Church as well as society.  The concept of one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church took a big hit.

Also, we cannot deny that the sex abuse scandal in the Church has had consequences beyond all expectations. The one we will mention here is the decrease in the number of priests resulting in the closing of churches. How do people react when they are TOLD that their church is closing?  Anger or indifference? Both lead to deeper division between people who care a lot and people who don’t care at all.

Have we, the People of God, learned that to begin to heal division we must be willing to listen to how the other person came to her/his view?  Have we learned that no amount of arguing or debate will do what sincere listening can do?

Are we ready for Timothy Radcliff’s synodal meditation, “At Home in God, and God at Home In Us?” He said,

We need to renew the Church as our common home if we are to speak to a world that is suffering from a crisis of homelessness. We are consuming our little planetary home. There are more than 350 million migrants on the move, fleeing war and violence. Thousands die crossing seas to try to find a home. None of us can be entirely at home unless they are. Even in wealthy countries, millions sleep on the street.

His meditation is beautiful and reads so smoothly.  I strongly recommend that everyone read and pray with it. And his reflection inspires me to remember the unifying gift of God in the Eucharist.  Here in Dominican Convent, we have the gift of daily Mass. Because we are alive and aware of the world around us, we carry our opinions and views and express them at appropriate times. But our celebration of the Eucharist is above our individual views.  I believe this is our way of being Church and we have something wonderful to share. We can put aside our differences-–even if only for a short time.

The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist takes us to another level where we are one with God and creation, one with the Church’s symbol of St John Lateran, one with strangers and the displaced, and one with each other at home. Again, in Timothy Radcliffe’s words,

At home, we are affirmed as we are, and invited to be more. Home is where we are known, loved, and safe but challenged to embark on the adventure of faith.

To really breathe in and out the Spirit of God fills us with the Grace to be that refuge for all of God’s hurting people. This is our mission: To share the healing unity of the Eucharist in our daily lives with others in need. What a wonderful gift that God has already promised us a place, a home of peace where all will be well.

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