I used to think it strange that the Roman Catholic Church counts in the daily list of “saints” a Church building. That was back in the days of my most concrete way of thinking. Today I know that the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome is symbolic for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it has survived from the early part of the fourth century, the oldest church in Europe. Yes, it has been renovated, having survived several fires and even an earthquake, but as such has become a symbol of the ongoing presence of the Church—the home of God, so to speak, and as the site of papal installation until 1870. It still stands as one of the most beautiful and significant churches in Rome.
The symbolic value of the Church is seen today in the lectionary Psalm 46, chosen for the celebratory Mass of this day. Listen to the images found in the translation of Lynn Bauman (more powerful if read aloud).
God is for us a place of refuge and a mighty strength always present to us in our time of need…Suppose an earthquake rumbles through our world, or a mountain tips and tumbles into the sea; should these make us afraid and be the cause of dread? Though storms may blow and the seas themselves begin to foam, and though the foundations of the world are shaken to their core, Our God is the God of thousands, the God of myriad beings, like a stronghold to our ancestors, our God is with us now.
As if that were not enough, St. Paul tells the Corinthians today: Brothers and sisters, You are God’s building…Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? AND the temple of God, which you are, is holy. (1 COR 3)
Think on these things, if you will!