Monday, November 3, 2014

Dedication of the Lateran Basilica - November 9, 2014

First Reading Commentary
This particular Reading is not meant to be taken literally; it is filled with spiritually symbolic or mystical language.  The water can be prophetically understood to mean the baptism of Christ along with His doctrine and grace.  The fish are Christians who spiritually live by these holy waters or the law of Christ; and the fruit trees along both banks are Christian virtues. 

Missing from this Reading but found in the actual biblical text are the fishermen who are the guardians of these waters or doctrines, which is understood to mean the apostles and their successors. 

The “fresh fruit” in both the Hebrew text and Latin Vulgate translates as “firstfruits” which intimates the most excellent or very best.  This points to Sacred Scripture which “shall serve for food” and biblically we know that the firstfruits belong to God, thus we can deduce this most excellent and very best Food to also mean the Eucharist. 

The “leaves for medicine” are the saints whose example heals the soul.  Wherever Christ and His teachings flow, there we will find glory and grace.             

Second Reading Commentary
The verse before this Reading begins, Saint Paul instructs us that we are God’s husbandry or soil.  As we all know, soil is used for planting; and virtues are what God plants in us.  We are warned to be careful about how we build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. 

We see in our modern day world other foundations being laid that are not Jesus.  And while they may be temporally rewarding, they, like all things temporal, will perish.  Saint Paul, as if he could see our modern day culture, poignantly asks: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”  In other words, we are eternal beings; why are we so attracted to things that will not last? 

An exegetist writes: “Fly from those false apostles who seek your ruin!”  As eternal bliss is impossible without our Lord, the preceding statement might suggest that ruination also does not come by our hands alone.  Our culture seems to have a recognitory handicap by not seeing the Lord as our only Treasure; and also appears to be challenged in recognizing our enemy as the one who lures us away from our Savior, for very few willingly serve the tempter.

Gospel Commentary
It was customary to go to Jerusalem for the Passover; Saint Luke teaches us this in his Gospel (cf. 2:41-42). 

Saint John Chrysostom asks a question which perhaps you’ve thought of: “How could the Son of the carpenter, Joseph, Whose Divinity was yet unknown to the people, succeed in expelling so great a multitude from the temple?”  Fortunately, the wisdom of this great saint also provides an answer: “There was undoubtedly something divine in His whole conduct and appearance, which deterred all from making resistance.  The evangelist seems to insinuate this by putting the words, ‘My Father’s house’ into our Savior’s Mouth, which was immediately making Himself the Son of God.” 

Origen Adamantius, an early Church scholar also reflected on this miracle and concluded that it would have to be a superior manifestation of power to overcome the unruly dispositions of so many. 

The words of Saint Paul in the Second Reading come right back to us: “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person.”  But Saint Paul goes on to teach us that we are that temple.  Thus, Jesus does something very physical in casting out these corrupt businessmen but the spiritual and mystical value of what He did is far more important for us to grasp.  The soul of man is the house of God; and Jesus, as prophesied by the Book of Psalms, is consumed with zeal for our souls.  Another prophet also proclaims something pertinent to this: “My house shall be called a house of prayer” (Isaiah 56:7).  Hence, the soul is designed to have a close union with the Lord which comes through prayer, and very intimately from the Eucharist. 

Today there is evidence of a highly secularized culture obsessed with the need for material goods and wealth.  Has the soul of man become a marketplace instead of the house of prayer for which it was made?  Should we reflect on this Gospel and conclude or at the very least suspect that the core of our troubles as a people of God are rooted in our attraction to temporal joys and seemingly secure enticements, instead of turning towards Jesus and seeing Him as our eternal security?