This Sunday we hear the familiar Gospel of how Jesus cleared the Temple of the money changers and marketers who gathered to sell their animals for sacrifice at the doors of the Temple. As he drove them out Jesus told them, “This is the house of my Father.” As Christians, we, with our brothers and sisters in faith gather in our “Father’s” house to worship and pray. A Catholic church is for a faith community the house of God; a sacred and holy place that houses the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
This Sunday the house of God in the city of Rome is honored as the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of the Lateran Basilica; officially known as the Archlateran Basilica: the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Rome. Bishop Donald Kettler is to St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud as Pope Francis is to the Lateran Basilica in Rome.
In each diocese there is a cathedral church, a “Mother Church” which holds the cathedra: the official chair or “seat” of the presiding bishop. As a shepherd to the people he serves, it is from here that a bishop teaches and guides the people of his diocese and in the Pope’s
case, the world-wide people of God. This is the Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, the official ecclesial (church) seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is Pope Francis I. It is the oldest church in Rome and upon the front façade of the church it reads: “Clemens XII Pont Max Anno V Christo Salvatori In Hon SS Ioan Bapt et Evan,” an abbreviated Latin inscription meaning “Pope Clement XII, in the fifth year of his reign dedicated this building to Christ the Savior, in honor of St. John the Baptist and Evangelist.” As the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, it is held in honor above all other churches in the Catholic Church and so holds the title of “Archbasilica”.
As we honor this church, let it be a reminder for us to honor our community’s church as well; for this is the place that we gather to grow in faith to God and in love to one another; here we become one in the Body of Christ.