This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome — the mother church. Most Catholics think of St. Peter’s as the Pope’s main church, but in fact it is St. John Lateran.
On the facade of the Basilica there is an inscription in Latin which reads, “the mother and mistress of all churches of Rome and the world.” As the Pope is primarily a Bishop, a first among equals, St. John Lateran has a special and symbolic importance for the Church as a whole. And our celebration today is a way of expressing the unity of the whole Church with the Bishop of Rome — and the unity of all churches with Rome, and each other.
If today, we were asked to define what the Church is, what do you suppose most us of would say? If we were to predictably define the church as a “house of worship,” the question for us would be: is it merely a building with walls and ceiling and floor and furniture to which we come for corporate worship? No! The church of Jesus Christ is not a collection of buildings. The church of Jesus Christ is people. We are the Church!
We are a people who assemble regularly to give praise and thanks to the Lord for His creation, for His gift of life, for His love, for His mercy, for His pardon; a people who assemble regularly in the spirit of reconciliation and mutual forgiveness. And that’s how we should define church!
Our almanacs tell us that one of the signs of the coming of an extraordinarily harsh winter is that the berry bushes will produce more berries than usual — an example of the birds being provided for even though they cannot “sow or reap or gather into barns.” The birds of the sky will die, of course. And so too will we. Jesus didn’t say that birds do not have to die. He said they didn’t have to worry while they are here.
Hummingbirds are a fascinating species — so fragile, tiny and beautiful. There are actually 320 kinds of hummingbirds. The tiniest among them is the “Bee-Humming” bird. It is only 2 1/8 inches long and half of that is tail feathers and beak. It weighs only five grams — about the same weight of a few aspirins or vitamin pills. Yet that tiny creature can hover, fly up and down, sideways, and in and out with amazing grace and flexibility. It flaps its wings ninety times a second. And that little bird somehow knows that when it begins to get cold, for its own well-being it is best for it to leave Northern Canada and migrate down through the United States and the Gulf of Mexico, all the way to the Panama Canal Zone. And it knows just when to turn around and fly back. Just an accident of nature? You might as well believe that if a big library blew up and all of its books went skyward, they would come down in alphabetical order by title! Jesus points to the birds and says, “Look at God’s concern for those tiny creatures — and learn from that! God cares! Even for little hummingbirds! God cares for you!”
PEACE AND BLESSINGS!
Liturgical Music Corner by our Music Director, Rebecca Brown
Nov. 9, The Dedication of the Lateran Basilica
The readings and prayers for today are rich in imagery and beauty: “I saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband”. (entrance antiphon); “The waters of the river gladden the city of God” (psalm response).
Today we celebrate the anniversary of the earliest basilica in Christianity: St. John Lateran, the mother church of Rome. We are reminded that the temple is a holy, sacred space; that place where God dwells: a church building, yes, but also the temple of our bodies. In the Gospel today, Jesus prophesies His resurrection: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”. During this month of November we continue to remember our loved ones who have died in the hope of the resurrection, remembering that we are all on the same journey, the journey for home.
Songs for the 9 am Mass:
Gathering Song: The Church’s One Foundation # 659
Preparation of the Gifts: Lux Aeterna Litany
“Lux aeterna, dona eis requiem”
Communion Song: Journey For Home # 703
Recessional Song: City of God # 691
NOTICE: We invite you to a screening of Lesson 6 of CATHOLICISM, the DVD series by Rev. Robert E. Barron, at the Rio Theater in Monte Rio, Sunday, Nov. 23 at 2:00 PM. Admission is free. Lesson 6: A Body Both Suffering & Glorious – the Mystical Union of Christ & the Church will be shown. This is a preview of the series which will be started at St. Hubert’s Hall the second week of Advent. For more information see Catholicism