“You are God’s building.” (1 Cor 3:9)
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. This is the cathedral of Rome where the Pope is the bishop of Rome and thus it is the cathedral of the Universal Church. We celebrate this feast to remind us that we are one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with our Holy Father as we rejoice over the dedication of our mother church in Rome. This feast also serves as a reminder that we are the Church. It is not a building or a far away building in Rome, but the Church is made up of living stones, the people of God, who in communion with Christ and with those he has entrusted with the care of his flock are called to build up the Kingdom of God here on earth.
We are reminded that as a Church we are called to build upon the foundation that Our Savior left for us. He founded the Church and the apostles and all who came after built on that foundation. Here in this particular church that was founded 60 years ago, we continue to build upon the foundation left by the founders of this great parish community. The works that they did back then laid the framework for what we are doing today as a parish. Obviously, we gather together for Mass in this beautiful church that our founders labored to build, and we enjoy the fruits of their labor, but what are we leaving for future generations?
Because we are the living Church, we never stop in building up the kingdom of God. There are so many of your brothers and sisters here in this parish who labor in God’s vineyard and perform great acts of charity without anyone even noticing. Obviously, in the coming week, we will see many people work during our parish carnival, but there will be many who will be working far from view whose jobs are no less important: those who stay behind at night to pick up trash, those who wake up early to buy the food, those who perform tiny acts of charity to help these days go by smoother. But beyond the carnival, in the day-to-day life of this parish, so many wonderful people build up the kingdom with only their Heavenly Father noticing. We have those who help the poor in our food pantry. We have an army of people who visit the sick and bring the love that we share in this church on Sundays into people’s homes. We have ladies that quietly clean our altar cloths and the priests’ vestments. We have men who without prompting may fix something that is broken. After all this is your parish and you are the Church.
In short, we are called to reflect this magnificent temple where God resides. When I was a child, whenever we would go to Mass on Sunday, it was never lost on me that this was God’s house and this is where God lived. But as a Church, we cannot confine ourselves to these walls. This is something that our Holy Father has repeated time and again. If as a Church we are truly called to reflect this temple where God dwells, then we must be living temples of God’s presence out there in the world. The question and the challenge I leave with you this day as we celebrate what it means to be part of the Church is this: “What am I doing to contribute to the work of our beloved Church?”