Tuesday November 9, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Dedication of St. John Lateran
Reading I (Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12)
Reading II (1 Corinthians 3:9c-11, 16-17)
Gospel (St. John 2:13-22)
In the second reading today from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul talks about the temple and tells us that the temple of God is holy and you are that temple. So, on one level, we are living stones in the temple of God – that is, each one of us building upon the foundation that has been laid, the foundation Who is Jesus Christ, the foundation of the apostles built upon Christ – and each one of us is to be built upon the same foundation. Therefore, Saint Paul reminds us that we have to be careful how we build. It cannot be something different from what the Lord Himself has already begun. That means if we are going to build upon the same foundation it must be in the fullness of truth, but it must also be in the fullness of virtue in the way that we live, to live that faith, because Saint Paul reminds us that the temple of God is holy and if anyone destroys that temple God will destroy that person and we are that temple. So that tells us how we have to live: in such a way that we are glorifying God in our bodies so that we are building up the holiness of the temple.
Now we also read in the Gospel that Jesus comes into the temple and throws out the moneychangers and all the animals and all the things that should not be there. We then have to realize that if we are the temple of God the Lord is going to purify our temple too, that if we truly want to be holy He will enter that temple and kick out everything that does not belong there. If we are going to be serious about our prayer and we really want Our Lord to have the central place within us, then that means we have to get rid of everything that is in the way – and He will – because many of us have made His Father’s dwelling place (the temple, our own bodies, our own person) into a marketplace, into a den of thieves, even worse, into the den of Satan himself at times because of the sins we commit. Therefore, the Lord has to purify the temple, and so He will.
In of place all the sin and garbage that is there, He is going to infuse His Holy Spirit and His sanctifying grace. In Scripture, water is oftentimes a sign of both the Spirit and grace, so we hear in the first reading that there is water flowing out from the altar and flowing down into the sea, and that this water is going to provide for the trees along its banks, for fruit, for medicine, and so on. So if we want to have that spiritual food and the medicine for our souls, which is nothing other than the Eucharist, it requires first and foremost that we must be in the state of sanctifying grace, that that water must be flowing from beneath the altar which is at the very center of the temple.
We have to have this place of sacrifice in our hearts for the Lord, that altar where the holocaust is going to be offered. You are the holocaust that is to be offered on the altar of the temple. You are the temple, and you are the altar. With Christ, you are the victim who is to be offered upon that altar. That is the kind of temple we are to provide for the Lord. He Himself, then, will be the priest to offer that sacrifice. But He will not offer it without you; you have to exercise your priesthood in this temple of the Lord; you have to unite yourself with Christ, Who is both Priest and Victim, Who is both Temple and Altar; you have to unite yourself with Him and with His sacrifice to share in His priesthood, to offer yourself in union with Him so that the grace of God flowing from beneath the altar in your temple is going to be abundant and the fruit that is going to be borne there and the medicine from the leaves of the trees will be nothing other than the Tree of Life.
The fruit of the Tree of Life is the Eucharist, and the Tree of Life is Our Lady. We will have Our Lord and Our Lady, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, dwelling within. The glory of God is going to fill our temples, our own bodies, our own persons, and from there we will be truly built up as living members of this temple of Jesus Christ, built on that foundation which has been laid and built to the glory of God. This is the holiness of the temple and you are that temple.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.