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On 9 November we celebrate the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (Rome). The Basilica was built in the fourth century and is especially significant as the first place of public worship for Christians, after an edict by Emperor Constantine granted Christians the freedom to practice their religion. The Basilica has seen various changes throughout history, having been attacked, destroyed, vandalised and rebuilt many times over. This feast, however, is not simply about a building, important though it is. As the Mass readings illustrate, the feast is a reminder that we are God’s pilgrim people—his “living stones”—called to be God’s holy temple here on earth. The Church is about our individual and collective faith.
This is a timely reminder as we continue to journey through this pandemic. And as our local places of worship begin to reopen and life slowly resumes, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli reminds us that we are the Church not by virtue of a building, but by way of our baptism: ‘The Lord has invited us into his life. We are a part of the Body of Christ.’
‘Hello friends, it’s good to be with you today. In some way I’m at the moment feeling a little lightness of heart; a lightness of being, knowing that the opening up of our places of worship is now starting to happen. And just more generally the opening up of our city and state again. It is a moment of relief, isn’t it? For all of us I think that is the case and I just want to acknowledge that today.
In a sense, we can now begin to gather as the Church. We’ve already been the Church throughout all this period. In a sense, we’ve been the ‘Church scattered’ but the Church nonetheless. And now we’re moving into a gradual Church gathering again.
But to acknowledge that we are, and have been, all the way through this time the Body of Christ—present within our families and households, present to one another. Even though we have not been able to do so in a more formal way of gathering for the sacraments and so on. But it is also really important that we are God’s gathered people; really important. So, this is now possible in smaller numbers at the moment but gradually greater numbers, until we get to some sort of COVID normal.
But remember, we are the Church not by way of a building, but by way of our baptism. The Lord has invited us into His life. We are a part of the Body of Christ. We give expression to the Temple of the Holy Spirit. We are God’s pilgrim people. And now the Church scattered can now gradually be Church gathered.
We give thanks to the Lord and we ask for His continued blessing upon each and every one of us.
May the Lord be with you.’