RETHINKING THE TEMPLE OF THE MOST HIGH Reflection for the Feast of The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica Rev. Fr Boniface Nkem Anusiem PhD


There will be a great need for us to sing this song with great meditative sobriety.
REFRAIN: Behold among men the dwelling place of God.
They shall be His people and He shall be their Lord and God. (Rev. 21:3).
1.       People called by God through the word of prophets.
People brought together in the house of the Lord.
People who attend to their Lord,
The Church of Christ the Lord. (refrain)
2.       Temple built by saints, by the martyrs and apostles.
Holy temple built-upon Christ the Cornerstone.
Holy dwelling place of our God.
The church of Christ the Lord. (refrain)
3.       People who are born in the waters of the Spirit.
People who are marked by the seal of the Spirit.
People in the Spirit made one,
The church of Christ, the Lord. (refrain)

Today is very important to the Church as we celebrate the dedication of the Pope’s Cathedral. The Lateran Basilica which is the mother of all Churches that was built by Emperor Constantine after his conversion to Christianity. The exceptional character of the Basilica is based on its tripartite dedication to our Lord Jesus Christ, John the Baptist and John the evangelist.
The suitability of temple as a place of divine encounter and worship cannot be mistaken as God from the earlier encounter with the people of Israel instructed them about buildig a temple where the ark of covenant can be kept and where due worship will be given to him. This was undertaken and completed by King Solomon (1 Kings 6:1).
In the First Reading Today (Ezekiel 47:1-2.8-9.12) the prophet recounted his vision about the temple especially with particular reference to the water that flows from the eastern part of the temple reaching out to the Arabah and the stagnant water. The water is so powerful that it brings about life and vivacity for both plants and animals. Hence it could be said that the water from the temple recreates creation.
It is important to note that this water is not just ordinary water or if you like physical water. This is actually the divine blessings that flows from God’s house into the houses of his people. The temple thus becomes a source of sustenance for people as God through His dwelling place of earth visits the dwelling places of His people. It is agreeable to all from the description of the words to Ezekiel that without the water from the temple there would not have being life, development and rejuvenation for the living things. It is on accout of this the the responsorial psalm declared that the water of a river give joy to God’s city, the holy place, the dwelling of the Most High.
In the Second Reading (1 Cor.39c-11.16-17) St. Paul tries to remind us of what we often tend to forget; that we are God’s temple. Some have found this designation quite confusing but it was established for us at the beginning of human life. We are aware of this in the book of Genesis where we are told that God created man in His own image and likeness (Gen.1:27). It was at this point that God instituted in man His temple. Hence the basic part of us is God and we are espected to respect and reverence the divine presence in us. This in turn calls for purity of body and soul. The realisation of the fact that we are built up on God should move us to respect and honour our bodies as God’s dwelling place.
While St. Paul focused on the respect we should accord to the temple as our bodies, our Lord Jesus Christ focused on the respect we should accord to the temple as the place of worship. In the Gospel today (John 2:13-22), our Lord seem to have acted with aggresion on those who were buying and selling in the temple. He drove them out, overturned the tables of the money changers and made the animals to leave. It must have been a very intriguing event. He concluded by admonishing that God’s house should be a place of prayer and not a den of robbers.
What our Lord fought against more than two thousand years ago is still happening in our day and age. Today church has become for many a source of wealth creation and self aggrandizement. The influx of many churches at various locations is not to be misconceived as mere faith germination. We have around us in various places small and large scale bussinesses with sign posts bearing the names of churches. What is the difference between those who were buying and selling during the time of our Lord Jesus Christ and many who are today asking people to pay certain amount of money for miracles to take place in their lives. Many use various tricky and even occultic means to perform magic (not miracles) so that many will believe and follow them.
Today there is need for each and everyone of us to rethink our relationship with the temple. Oftentimes we find so many people doing so many things that are unreligious and unspiritual in the temple. For many it has become a place of social catch-ups. For others it has become a fashion runway. For others it is a showroom for various wears; there are others for whom it is a rendevous for car exhibition. Still others use the temple as call centre and internt cafe.
If we keep in mind always that God dwells in the temple then  and only then can we reshape and restructure our lives to be attuned to the decorum and respect that should be given to the house of God; namely the temple. There is also need for us especially those whom God has shown so much favour in terms of material wealth to support in the building and maintenance of God’s house. Many did this in the past like Constatine whom we talked about earlier and in the recent time we can recall the wonderful contribution of president Félix Houphouët-Boigny of Cote d’Voire who built the basilica of Our Lady of Peace Yamoussoukro under three years with about $300 Million dollars.
We actually need not be too rich before we can contribute to the growth and maintenance of the house of God. We don’t need to go to the monastery before we could honour and respect the temple of God which is our bodies. May this feast day help us to have a deeper and more productive introspection as regards the temple of God.
Happy Feast day.
Fr. Bonnie

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