November 9, 2008
Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12
1 Corinthians 3:9c-11, 16-17
Today is one of those feasts that often make us scratch our heads and wonder. The Lateran Basilica? What does that have to do with us siting here in this church this morning? I think this feast day is a great opportunity for a bit of a Greek lesson. There are two important words when we talk about time, kairos and chronos. Chronos refers to our chronological time. It is the chronological that runs our lives. My wrist watch keeps in tune with the 24 hours a day of chronological time. Kairos time is time that exists outside of chronological time, its God's time. This kairos time is where we encounter the Sacraments. Kairos is the moment when we touch eternity.
There is another Greek word that is important to what we do here today and that is anamnesis. Anamnesis is about remembering, remembering the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord. Yet is goes further. As we celebrate Mass, we enter into that kairos time and we are present in the past, the present and the future. We are present as Jesus celebrates the Last Supper. We are present here with one another as we receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Yet there is more! We are touching that beautiful eternal banquet in the presence of the Lord! Do you feel tired yet? A lot is happening as we celebrate Mass each day.
Now we come to the feast day of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. I had the privilege of attending Mass there in 2000. It is an amazing structure. The Lateran Basilica is the mother of every Catholic church throughout the world. This church we sit in this morning is linked to that amazing basilica in Rome. Today we celebrate sacred space. We are so accustomed to buildings being built, torn down, and built again that we don't really think about space as holy and sacred. This church has been consecrated to the service of God and his people. This church we worship in today has been consecrated by a bishop, a shepherd of the Church, the altar and walls anointed with Sacred Chrism and dedicated to God's glory. This is holy ground! Here we leave behind the demands of our watches and we enter that sacred time that God uses to give us strength on our spiritual journey. Here at this altar we encounter the risen Lord as bread and wine is transformed by the Holy Spirit into the Body and Blood of Jesus himself. We receive Christ and then go forth to be the very Body of Christ in the world. We are to become that which we have received. Our stepping outside of the chronological into the sacred time of God is so that we can rest our souls and be fed by God's great love.
So here we are, celebrating a building in a far away country. But no ordinary building do we give thanks for. It is from that sacred place that this place is made sacred. We are united throughout the world with every Catholic church from the small to large, the simple to the complex, the plain to the ornate. We are joined as one body proclaiming the message of salvation through word and sacrament proclaimed in our deeds. It is here that we encounter the mystery of the Uncaused First Cause. It is here in this church that our lives are transformed by the glorious mysteries of our faith and we actually touch the Risen Lord as we enter into his time!
So yeah, we celebrate a church building this morning. We celebrate that by God's mysterious love, we have a sacred space that propels us to encounter the Divine. We honor a space that has been made holy by God, where we strive to be holy as our Heavenly Father is holy. Let us give thanks this day that God gives us such sacred and holy places to encounter him and to receive salvation from his Son Jesus and be filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Amen!