If you are looking at a particular sermon and it is removed it is because it has been updated.

For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

First Sunday of Advent Year B 2014

 1st. Sunday of Advent (B)
(Isaiah 63:16b-17; 64:1, 3-8; 1st. Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37)

Our reading from the prophet Isaiah on this, the first Sunday of the Advent season, is a direct preparation for what will be the ultimate realization and fulfilment of the purpose for which Jesus the Christ came as man, and the supreme proclamation of His Good News: namely, the revelation of God the Father, and the re-birth -- by the Holy Spirit -- of Jesus’ disciples as true children of the heavenly Father.
At the very beginning of our adapted first reading Isaiah referred to God as Father twice:
You are our father.  Were Abraham not to know us, nor Israel to acknowledge us, You, Lord, are our father, our redeemer you are named forever.   
Yes, Isaiah was very conscious and proud of the fact that God was a father to Israel; and yet, what did he mean by that word ‘father’? 
For an answer to our question we must turn our attention to the Law, in particular to the book of Deuteronomy, source of the fountain which inspired Isaiah, for there we read:
You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you, you forgot the God who gave you birth. (32:18)
And he then continues, speaking in the name of the Lord:
They have provoked Me with their ‘no-god’, I will provoke them with a ‘no-people’; they are a people having no understanding. (32: 21, 28)
So, though the word ‘father’ is used, and even backed-up by words like ‘begot’ and ‘gave you birth’, nevertheless they are all used metaphorically, since it is all about the creation and establishment of a nation, from those who formerly had been a persecuted minority of slaves in Egypt and latterly a mere wandering, mongrel, collection of tribes-people.  That is why when for the third time the word ‘father’ is used in our reading from Isaiah we hear:
O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.   
Obviously Isaiah did not intend the full and literal meaning of the word ‘father’; for,  though he said: ‘You are our father, our Redeemer You are named forever’, he  showed more precisely what he meant with the word ‘father’ in the words that followed: ‘You are our father, we are the clay and you the potter’.
So we have it: the prophet himself was not, and could not be, aware of the full meaning and true significance of the word he used when calling God the father of Israel; nevertheless, his ignorance of the full meaning of the word he used was and is a true sign of the inspiration of his prophecy.  For, as St. Paul said to his Christian converts at Corinth:
God is faithful, by Whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9).
Yes, God the Father, in His great faithfulness, was true to His originally Chosen People over more than a thousand years – which surely is one of the deepest reasons for our trusting and hoping in Him – and, having led Isaiah and indeed Israel as a whole to use a word they could not fully appreciate, He then guided history itself so that those words of prophecy and traditional faith were ultimately shown to be true in the sublime beauty of their fullest meaning and deepest significance when He brought about -- through Mary of Nazareth, the Flower of Israel -- the birth in time of His only-begotten, eternally-beloved, Son.
Yes, God sent His consubstantial and co-equal Son to fulfil the words of the prophet and save His people from Satan’s power of sin and death.  Through faith and baptism into Jesus our Brother, humankind becomes adoptive sons and daughters of God: truly begotten by the Spirit, in the Son, for the Father.  By the Gift of the Holy Spirit -- bestowed on us in Mother Church by our loving Saviour in accordance with the Father’s promise -- we are established, sustained, and nourished as living members of Him Who is the eternal and only-begotten Son; thereby enabling us to live our human potential to its sublime fulfilment, becoming, in Jesus, adopted children of the one true God and Father of us all.  That, dear People of God, is why you heard St. Paul exclaim in the second reading:
I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus.
As we are now entering upon a new Church year, it is not only right and proper, but surely, also, supremely helpful and comforting, for us to be clearly aware of the ultimate goal of our life in Jesus.   However, it is not only Jesus and the Holy Spirit Who are at work in us, leading us to and forming us for, the Father; no, the Father Himself comes to us, as Jesus promised:
If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:23)
The Father Himself, that is, comes – with Jesus and the Holy Spirit -- to abide within us and to help us become His true children in Jesus, and this He does in a way that is unique to Him, that is, by showing Himself to be our most perfect, and indeed only true, Father:
As for you, call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. (Matthew 23:8–9)
The Father can speak to us -- if we will hear and listen -- from our earliest years, because He is able speak to us in the very centre of our being.  Good parents have this ability also although only to a very limited extent; it is indeed a special gift from God for them, which is why the words and attitudes of our parents can remain with us throughout life.  Since the Father, however, deals with us through unspoken words in the depths of our personal being; and since, in our early years we have hardly learned to recognize His traces, early experiences of such communications seem to originate with ourselves, to be ours: mysterious longings and desires, sudden lights and quiet convictions, protecting fears and simple assurance, all can seem to be very much a part of us because they come from the centre of our being; and yet, because they are communications from the as-yet-not-known Father, they remain inexplicable to ourselves. The Father’s speaking to us only becomes intelligible as we walk, by the Spirit, along the ways of Jesus -- as indicated to us by Mother Church -- and thus growing in awareness of and responsiveness to His loving Presence and continuing Providence.  When diverse and apparently unrelated events come to be suspected as connected and coherent parts of one embracing Providential plan protecting us from our own ignorance and guiding us through our own sinfulness and weakness towards a previously unanticipated goal; when parents, and even perhaps teachers and friends, come to be appreciated as having been aspects – fleeting or enduring -- of a Providence overarching our life; and when the past as a whole is gradually seen to harbour a shape that promises to give meaning and purpose to the present, as well as hope and expectation of future possibilities of good, then the Father’s  Presence and Providence is revealing itself to us in glimpses reflecting the beauty of His truth and the splendour of His grace in the Scriptures and in Mother Church;  glimpses where greater certitude arises from presence rather than proof, and deeper knowledge from experience rather than investigation.  Then, indeed, amazement stuns our mind, while love inflames our heart and restores our soul: God is so wondrously over and above us, and yet so mercifully and lovingly in us and for us. 
In ways such as these the Father can speak to us in any situation and throughout the whole extent of our life.  No earthly father or mother, no friend, no lover, can speak so intimately or be present to us in such a way: because He is the God who originally made us in His Own likeness, for whom He gave up His only-begotten Son, and on whom He bestows a breathing of His very Spirit.
Indeed, such is His great goodness to us that He would be our all, not only in our origins, but also in the end and ultimate justification of our being.  He wants to be for us the perfect Father: such a Father to Whom only Jesus can introduce us, for Whom, only the Spirit can form us; and Whose Presence we can encounter only as living members of the glorious Body of Christ, our Brother and our Head.  He is indeed, and wills to be for each one of us, the sublime Father Who is always there -- with us and in us -- far closer to us than we are, or ever can be, to ourselves; the Father who first of all draws us to Jesus and, in Jesus, forms us for Himself by the Spirit.
If we bear in mind that, in the Catholic patristic tradition, the Son and the Holy Spirit have been spoken of, figuratively, as the hands of the Father, we are now in a position to understand the true significance of Isaiah’s words:
O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.
Understanding the significance of Isaiah’s words and realizing that they were pronounced hundreds of years before Jesus, we are also in a position to appreciate not only the loving providence and sublime wisdom of our God but also the fact that, as the most perfect of Fathers, He has indeed loved us before we were born, and continues to love us in such a way and to such an extent that, in return, we most surely can and should -- always and unhesitatingly -- commit ourselves to His wisdom and love wherever life may lead us or death o’ertake us. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Christ the King Year A 2014


           (Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28; Matthew 25:31-46)

In our Gospel parable today notice that those sheep who will be called to the right hand of Jesus when He comes in glory, are presented as having shown love of neighbour, but without having directly recognized or responded to the Son of Man in their neighbour:
Then the righteous will answer Him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You?   When did we see You ill or in prison, and visit You?’
Jesus’ words picture a public judgement where the crime must be clear to all.  Now, love of God -- in the intimacy of its transcendent beauty -- cannot be directly seen.  Nevertheless, its burgeoning can be seen, as Jesus’ words will show, in love of neighbour; and the absence of such love is therefore, in accord with St. John’s blunt teaching, unacceptable:
If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God Whom he has not seen?  And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother. (1 Jn. 4:20s.)
And so the Last Judgment can only be publicly pictured and appreciated with regard to works of fraternal charity done or omitted.
However, when looked at in the context of the whole of St. Matthew’s presentation of the Good News of Jesus, works of fraternal charity are valid and valuable only in so far as they are signs and expressions of divine charity, or, again as St. John might put it, budding branches of the True Vine tended by the heavenly Father.
A lawyer, asked Jesus a question, testing Him, and saying, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"  Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.'  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Mt. 22:35-40)
Likewise, St. Matthew elsewhere quotes Jesus showing love of neighbour to be necessary indeed, but as a preparation for and foreshadowing of love of God when he tells how a rich young man, after having long kept the commandments and shown love toward his neighbour, came to Jesus (19:16-21) because he still felt himself to be far from perfect:
He said to (Jesus), "Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?"  Jesus answered him, "Why do you ask Me about the good? There is only One Who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments."  He asked Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honour your father and your mother; and, you shall love your neighbour as yourself."  The young man said to Him, "All of these I have observed.  What do I still lack?"  Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow Me."
Jesus wanted to lead that promising young man on to the fullness of charity in love of God, and giving his earthly possessions to the poor would be a significant step towards that end.  And what an inducement that young man was being offered to free himself from the chains of earthly wealth: the opportunity to learn from close proximity with Jesus -- the very Son made flesh -- how to truly love His Father in heaven!!
Come, follow Me” Jesus had said to him; only three short words but of surpassing significance. “Come and learn from Me overflowing love of God; come, learn to love My Father and your Father so much as to be able to embrace the Cross with Me for His glory and the salvation of mankind”.  And He speaks those same words to us this very day, for only when freed from the ultimate slavery of sin and ignorance by the power of His Spirit, can we Catholics and Christians make use of the Spirit’s gifts of grace in Mother Church, and walking thereby with Jesus, begin to conduct our individual lives to the service of God’s glory and the better-ordering of society and the world around us.
Only as ordinary, everyday, Christian men and women become ever more healthy and strong as Christ is formed in them by the power of the Holy Spirit, will He be able -- through us -- to gradually correct and efface the evils which afflict our world, until such time as:
            Having put all enemies under His feet,
He is finally able to fully manifest Himself as King:
When He delivers the Kingdom to God the Father.
Towards that end every disciple of Jesus is called and able to contribute, having been allotted a personal role to play and a necessary function to fulfil therein; and in all such endeavours, each and every one of us is personally responsible to Jesus because each and every one of us is not only personally important to Him, but so very much loved by Him, and ultimately to be judged by Him.
To the sheep on His right hand -- in our Gospel reading -- questioning when they had done good to Him Personally, Jesus says:
Amen I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of Mine, you did for Me.
To the goats on His left hand, however, similarly questioning when they had failed to minister to His Personal needs, He says in answer:
Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for Me.
The sheep – righteous, because of their love for and commitment to Jesus – acted according to their Christian conscience with regard to one of His brothers, even though the least.
The goats -- having no love for Jesus and no conscience -- acted from merely personal motives and therefore did no true good to even ‘one of these least ones’: ‘these’ being unspecified and therefore including both those on Jesus’ right hand -- His brothers, and unrecognized as such by the goats – and even those on His left hand (all likewise, goatishly self-sufficing and self-seeking, and consequently incapable of recognizing and responding to ‘conscience’).  Put quite simply, they did true good to no one at all, for as St. Matthew quotes Jesus saying earlier (19:17), there is only One Who is good.
Those on the right hand, the sheep, did some good arising from conscience, and in that respect, some divine good; even though so slight and apparently insignificant as to be considered as done to just one of the least of Jesus’ brethren; the goats on the left hand, did no true, divine, good at all, not even the slightest; with the result that these will go off to eternal punishment while the righteous go to eternal life.
The result is quite surprising in the sense that it is perfectly authentic Catholic and Christian teaching, although Matthew’s manner of presentation has led many to assert that, according to his gospel, love of neighbour, rather than love of God, will turn out to be the ultimate criterion for entry into heaven.   And yet, what does Matthew actually, say?   That the only true good, the one decisive good work, was that done by sheep for conscience’ love of Jesus, while the goats on the left hand did no true good to anyone, ultimately, because they themselves had no love for Jesus, and their motives were self-inspired, self- chosen, and self-serving.
Why did Matthew teach the same as all the other Evangelists and biblical authors in such a particular way?  Perhaps because he -- being, as is commonly thought, at the head of and/or writing for a community of Jewish Christians  and living in close proximity with Jews still adhering to Moses’ teaching and the synagogue worship --  needed to emphasise Jesus’ teaching on love of neighbour for such a group where love of God was accepted as first and unchallenged as such, but where legal technicalities and traditional allegiances might become ‘sparky’ at times and could, all too easily, lead his readers and hearers to forget Jesus’ inseparable association of love of neighbour with the supreme law of love of God.  It was, possibly, a risk the Evangelist took knowingly for a matter of supreme importance, because love of God could not be or ever become truly Christian if it were not able to call forth accompanying love of neighbour.
For Mother Church’s celebration of this great feast of Christ the King, there is an additional beauty in our Gospel reading this day, because in it alone, and with great condescension and generosity, Jesus shows Himself as King in the manifestation of the power He first exerted for us, and in the majesty of His glory to be shared with us.  Thus He is, in today’s unique liturgy, to be seen and most gratefully embraced by us as Christ our King:
In Christ shall all be brought to life: Christ the firstfruits, then at His coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end when He hands over the kingdom to His God and Father.
Come, you who are blessed by My Father.  Inherit (with Me) the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

33rd Sunday Year A 2014

  33rd. Sunday of Year (A)
         (Proverbs 31:10-13, 19s, 30s; 1st. Thessalonians 5:1-6; Matthew 25:14-30)

Today’s parable was relatively long and quite detailed, with special emphasis being given to the lot of the servant who received one talent and did nothing with it.  Some people might think that what he did with the one talent is irrelevant because he was unfairly treated from the beginning by being given but one talent while others had received much more; and so, feeling somewhat sorry for this 'poor one talenter', they harbour a kind of grudge against the master of those servants and don’t really expect or seek to learn anything from the parable. 
However, we should refrain from allowing our own modern critical propensities and emotional prejudices to have free rein with this story from long-ago and far away, and try, first of all, to appreciate the value – in terms relevant to ourselves today -- of the talent in our parable.  One talent was then the equivalent of 6000 denarii, and a man and his family could live adequately for one day at the cost of 2 denarii.  So you see that he who received “only one talent” had actually been given sufficient to provide a man and his family with a living for over 8 years!  He had, in fact, been entrusted with a far-from-insignificant sum of money!!
People of God, have nothing to do with the prevalent greed and self-love which lead certain vociferous protagonists to cry foul wherever some seem to have more than others; avoid those who bristle with pseudo-sympathy for what they like to call ‘under dogs’ who have not -- in their estimation -- been personally endowed with all the talents, or given all the opportunities and advantages, that others seem to enjoy.  Have nothing to do with such ‘defenders of the downtrodden and the poor’, I say, for without doubt, all of us have been most generously endowed by God for our privileged calling to bring forth fruit for God’s glory, and for our own sharing therein which we call ‘eternal life’.
We need, therefore, first of all, to ask our heavenly Father for wisdom – personified as ‘the perfect wife’ in our first reading – and then calmly turn our attention to the two faithful servants of the Gospel so as to learn from their experience.
Their master said to each of them on bringing their profit to him:
Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.
Such words make us all feel glad, happy for and happy with those servants.  And if we attend more directly to the nature of that happiness, we can recognize three aspects mentioned or implied in those words:
Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’
“You were faithful” evokes the joy, the peace, the happiness of a good conscience.  “I will give you great responsibilities” implies being able to use one’s talents and abilities to a still greater extent, which is what we call the fulfilment of our being.  However, even so great a natural happiness is not able to fully captivate our attention in this parable because of those last words:
Come, share your master’s joy!
Ultimately the joy of a good conscience will lead not only to our natural fulfilment but even -- thanks to Jesus -- to joys that are beyond our natural capacity, to the eternal joys of our divine Lord and Master in heaven:
Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities.  Come, share your Master’s joy.’
Let us now, for just a few moments, compare those three aspects of happiness and you will realise how wonderful is that invitation to enter into the master’s joy.
We all know something of the many and various innocent joys and resultant deep happiness we, as human beings, can experience at times: sometimes we have the joys of success and achievement; most of us are deeply grateful for our experience of the peace and contentment of family life and love; we can appreciate too the happiness of truth discovered and known, and the thrill of beauty recognized and appreciated.    Many such earthly types of joy and happiness truly delight us and can give us a sense of deep contentment; and yet, some are also easily linked with sorrow and sadness.  There is a famous song, “Plaisirs d’Amour” which tells of the joys of love which swiftly pass away, and of its pains and sorrows which endure.  That might well be a jaundiced, poetic, point of view, but, nevertheless, it is part of the reason why so many people these days opt only for pleasure and eschew love: they want loose relationships, the pleasures of companionship without any binding commitment, so that if and when difficulties loom ahead or sorrows arise, they can cut free from the relationship and seek out some other source of comfort and pleasure that seems to promise a measure of security -- for a time, at least.  Yes, earthly love and family life, though they are such deep and essential joys for us, can also bring their own quite particular sorrows and trials: what parents, for example, can escape worrying about their children’s ‘health, wealth, and happiness’,  and those we love dearest can -- at times -- hurt us the deepest.  Our work also -- so necessary for our fulfilment both as human and personal beings – rarely offers us more than occasional success and limited satisfaction, while such blessings can be, these days, too often accompanied by concerns about business competition and the ever-present possibility of personal failure and/or redundancy.  And again, our appreciation of and delight in truth and beauty cries out to be shared with an appropriate companion who is not always easy to find.
The joy of a good conscience, however, is not in any way connected with sorrow and is therefore, joy of a far superior kind; moreover, it leads to another unsuspected joy which can also be ours: that is, a share in God’s eternal happiness which totally transcends all earth’s joys.  But how can it come about that we, who know ourselves to be so weak and fragile, are yet capable of receiving and appreciating something of infinite and eternal happiness? Despite all the outstanding advances of modern scientific thinking and industrial techniques, we still can hardly begin to conceive the immensity of the physical universe that everywhere surrounds us, while the overwhelming majority of its ‘contents’ are almost totally unknown to us … we can only guess at what we think ‘must’ be there … somewhere, somehow!!  How then can our poor hearts and minds expand so as to be able to accept, appreciate, and respond to the transcendent, spiritual fullness of Divine Beatitude which can be ours to share in Jesus?  The Psalmist (81:10) gives us the answer:
I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide;
How shall we open wide our mouth?  Listen again to the Psalmist (119:32):
I will run the course of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart.
So that is, indeed, the way we can prepare ourselves to receive the divine happiness that can be ours: to open wide our mouth by walking, indeed by  running, in the way of God’s commandments; and, as we do so, He gradually enlarges our hearts so that He might subsequently fill them with the riches of His blessings:
I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide, and I will fill it! (Psalm 81:10)
It has often been derisively objected against the teaching of eternal happiness, that it must be very boring.  ‘Not that happiness itself is boring’, such people would add, ‘but surely eternal, everlasting, happiness must become, eventually, boring’.  Let me counter such a remark with a question: could eternal, everlasting, pain be found boring?  Of course not! … real pain does not allow anyone sufficient respite ever to think they might be bored!  The cry ‘I am bored’ is a luxurious expression -- neither logical nor purposeful -- of a spoiled child, or of an idle adult, indulging his or her self-love.  And yet, its derivative ‘eternal life must be boring’ does induce many, too content with the things of this world, to put aside any thought of heaven, and it does help to explain why the Church’s teaching on, and Jesus’ promise of, heaven means so little to unthinking souls.
Therefore I would like to help you do a little thinking about heaven now: not intellectual work, so much as considering, going over, experiences that probably most of you have known several times in your life.
I want you to simply try to call to mind one of the happiest experiences of your life.  Do you remember how quickly the time passed by, then? … You were so happy it seemed to last but a moment, though hours, days, or perhaps even years could be a truer measure of the time involved.  Now that gives us a key to the nature of heavenly happiness!   For even though time is earthly -- an essential part and parcel of creation where things are always changing -- nevertheless, there are occasions, even here on earth, when time seems to fade away and almost disappear as great happiness floods and fills our mind and heart.   How utterly irrelevant then is any question of ‘boredom’ with regard to eternity where there can be no time!  Eternity is not endless time, eternity is timeless: time has no meaning for, no reality in, heaven, before God’s very Presence.  St. Peter tells us this in a pictorial way in his second letter:
Beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8)
Therefore for those who are called and being led by the Holy Spirit to share with Jesus in the blessedness of God’s heavenly and eternal Kingdom, time will – ultimately -- be totally obliterated by the influx of heavenly and divine joy.  In heaven time is, quite literally, nothing: not only because we won’t notice it, but because it has no being, no reality in itself; and, most certainly, it has no place whatsoever in the infinite bliss of God to which we are invited in Christ Jesus, Our Lord.
People of God: each one of you has been richly endowed by God and each one of you is unreservedly called, and seriously offered the chance, to share in God’s eternal blessedness.  Don’t think little of the gifts with which you have been endowed, don’t be fool enough now – or finally, wicked enough -- to ignore a happiness which can transfigure your whole being, making you eternally fulfilled and happy beyond all imagining! It can, most assuredly, be yours in Jesus. Therefore, let Him lead you now -- in the Church and by His Holy Spirit -- so as to be able, ultimately, to enter with Him into the presence of the Father Who, Jesus assures you, will greet you with those sublimely fulfilling words:
Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Sermon by Catholic Priest Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

 Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
(Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12; 1st. Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17; John 2:13-22)

The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the first of the four Roman Basilicas both in time and in significance: it is the first church mentioned in the records of the Holy See and the one in which the heads of both St. Peter and St. Paul were deposited, and it seems to have been the first official church of the bishops of Rome.  It was built in the year 315 at the same time as the triumphal arch of Constantine the Great, when Christianity had just been proclaimed to be not only socially acceptable -- and therefore to be free from further persecution -- but also the personal religion of the Emperor Constantine himself and the official religion of the state.  The Lateran basilica is still the seat of the Pope as Bishop of Rome; it is an enduring witness to Jesus’ words ‘I have overcome the world’; and it is indeed, the mother-church of Western Christianity.
Obviously, therefore, the anniversary of the dedication of this basilica is an occasion of great symbolic rejoicing for us, for it is indeed our duty and our joy to rejoice before God for His great goodness to His People throughout the ages:
Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance. (Psalm 89:15)
Today’s Scripture readings are specially chosen to both widen and deepen our rejoicing so as to embrace not only the significance of the Lateran Basilica itself, but also and indeed supremely, the glorious spiritual blessings bestowed on us in and through Mother Church. 
In our gospel reading St. John tells us that Jesus drove the merchants out of the Temple with a whip since they were, He said, dishonouring ‘His Father’s house’.   Matthew and Mark speak of the same event with greater detail, because Matthew (21:13) tells us that Jesus declared:
Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'? But you have made it a den of thieves;  
and Mark (11:17), while agreeing with Matthew, also adds that Jesus saw His Father’s house as, essentially:  A house of prayer for all nations.
Thanks therefore to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark we can understand why Jesus so strongly – even violently -- objected to the Temple being made into a ‘den of thieves’ or, as John said, ‘a marketplace’:
He began to drive out those selling and buying there.  He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who were selling doves, (and here, the spiritual Apostle John– the one most likely to appreciate and share Our Blessed Lord’s sense of outrage – adds, ch.2 v.16) saying, “Take these (things) out of here, and stop making My Father’s house a marketplace.”
How could it have been otherwise?   Solomon, we are told, having consecrated the first Temple to the Lord in Jerusalem, prayed most beautifully:
May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, 'My name shall be there,' that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. (1 Kings 8:29-30)
However, Jesus’ love for His Father’s house was immeasurably more Personal, holier, and intense, than that of King Solomon, and in this moment of spontaneous expression of such love we should note something essential about Jesus which is constantly being overlooked or deliberately ignored, indeed, even openly attacked by those who seek to deprive us of the essentially sacrificial component and commitment of Christian ‘agape’:

I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing

and to turn it into a merely humanistic promotion, peddled as ‘love’ -- easy, soft and cosy -- for all people in whatever circumstances.   Why is it less objectionable before public opinion today to seriously offend rather than to suitably punish? … how can so many serious criminals be freed early, on parole, to offend again, even to the extent of killing again, without any of the breast-beating and protestations that tend to accompany right punishment?   For repeating rapists and child-abusers who seek personal, physical, pleasure above all, and for that end willingly subject themselves to, and embrace, passion where reason has neither meaning nor authority, the truest punishment is pain -- appropriate of course -- but necessarily physical pain.   But that is not right for our modern, moralising society, which is so largely indifferent to those who suffer as a direct result at times of its
officially approved, god-substituting and self-proclaiming, indulgence.  And so, such and similar abuses  of sexuality and criminality  go on largely undeterred  -- and perhaps even more voraciously sought -- because ‘the law’ can, at the best, only drive them out of public view, force them underground, so to speak.
Let us now, however, turn to Jesus Himself again.
He began to drive out those selling and buying there.  He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who were selling doves saying, “Take these (things) out of here, and stop making My Father’s house a marketplace.”
The Temple in Jerusalem was God’s House in so far as His name was there; but God Himself had His proper dwelling in heaven, as we hear in the book of Deuteronomy (26:15) and in the prophet Isaiah (63:15):
Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us.
 Look down from heaven, and see from Your habitation, holy and glorious.      
Consequently, in the OT Temple of Jerusalem, there was both a presence and an absence.  The great prophets, however, were always alert to God’s irrepressible goodness, and so let us now return to our first reading in which we were told of a vision from God given to the prophet Ezekiel:
Then the angel brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east.
Now that water had remarkable healing properties:
 He said to me, “This water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah, and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh.  Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh.
Those waters flowing from the Temple in the prophets’ vision were a foreshadowing of the grace of the Holy Spirit to be given by Jesus to His Church, for His People.  Bearing that in mind we can appreciate even more why we should rejoice in this feast of the Lateran basilica, the first Christian Church of the West; for Mother Church is the source, for us, of God’s grace and in her we have been endowed with God’s Gift, the Spirit of Jesus, Who brings us refreshment after the bitter experience of our past sins and failings, and renewed life as we begin to live and grow in Jesus for the Father.
Finally we come to the supreme revelation of the reason for our rejoicing on this day, when we recall the words of St. Paul contained in the second reading:
You are God’s building.  You are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Mother Church today, indeed each and every Catholic Church, is God’s house, His Name is there for it is consecrated to Him, and it is truly a house of prayer.  Now, however, Jesus abides with us and for us Personally in Mother Church and in each and every parish church thanks to His Eucharistic Presence.  That Presence is an irreplaceable comfort to all Catholics.  However, we cannot take the Eucharistic Presence with us; the tabernacle remains in the church, and even though we may have received communion at Mass, nevertheless, that Eucharistic Presence of Jesus in us is but fleeting, being a Presence given to us as the supreme channel for the entry of the Spirit of Jesus into our lives, the Spirit Who comes with His healing and life-endowing powers to refresh and fructify the many arid ways of merely human hopes and aspirations, possibilities and powers.
If we live faithfully by Jesus’ Gift of the Spirit in and through Mother Church, He raises us up to, and opens up for us, a new vista of life in Jesus; and if we will allow the Spirit to rule in us for that life in the likeness of Jesus, Jesus and even the Father Himself will come to dwell with the Spirit, in us, as in His Temple, as St. Paul said speaking to his faithful converts:
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
When that takes place, People of God, the distance of God is totally transformed into a presence closer to us than we are to ourselves, as the following words of Jesus I am about to quote will explain.  Now these are indeed words spoken by Jesus with regard to Himself; but since the faithful disciple is one with Jesus, a living member of His Body, and since the faithful disciple is being made, by the Spirit of Jesus, into a child of God in the Son, therefore these words of Jesus about Himself and His Father apply also to each and every faithful disciple of Jesus according to the degree of their faithfulness to, and union with, Him.
Thus, in Jesus and by His Spirit, we can experience God’s presence as the Father’s presence to us; both as a total and comprehensive being-known:
No one knows the Son except the Father;
and as our own inchoate filial awareness and responsiveness in a sublimely tender and loving intimacy beyond human comprehension or comparison:
Nor does anyone know the Father except the only begotten Son Who is in the bosom of the Father (Matthew 11:27; John 1:18).
Thus, though having been made fully and, at times, painfully aware of our own nothingness and unworthiness, we are also given a total confidence that this divine endowment, this most wonderful relationship of presence and power, of being known and loving in return, cannot be lost, cannot be taken from us by any power or under any circumstance save that of our own turning away from God:
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. (John 10:28-30)
Therefore People of God, let us today remember these words of St. Paul:
             Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!  (Philippians 4:4)
Take them to your heart, let them gradually form and characterize you both as a person and as a Catholic; for our blessings are great and the promises we have received are beyond all human comprehension,  as St. Paul reminded our earliest forebears in the faith:
It is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him"         (1 Corinthians 2:9)