On this feast celebrating the dedication of the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Rome, the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, Saint Paul in his first letter to the people of Corinth says that "You are God's building." He reminds them and us "Do you know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" Whenever I finish using incense to honor the body of the deceased at a funeral, I remind those present that incense was used from ancient times to designate that which is holy, set apart for God, and that the reason that we use it then, at a funeral, is to honor this temple in which the Spirit of God has resided for all of those years.
We are God's building.
Ezekiel in the first reading has the angel bringing him to the entrance of the temple, where he saw water flowing out from the threshold toward the east and the south, in fact in all directions. This water flowed from the sanctuary, from the altar. This water was life giving, making the salt sea fresh, giving life to all living creatures, providing fruit trees along its banks for food and healing medicines. From the temple, from the altar of the temple comes life giving waters for all to share in and benefit from. This is the work of God in our midst.
Ezekiel's vision and Paul's words reminds us that as the temple of God, with God dwelling in our midst, we are the source of the life giving waters of grace and truth provided by the Spirit. That life giving water flows freely to every corner of the world in order that all might be touched by the healing power of Christ, renewed by the Spirit of God, and rejoice in the creative love of the Father. That water is not stored up in the temple for those who seek it, rather it is emptied out so that all could be touched by it.
The reading today help us celebrate the dedication of an ancient church in Rome that is the Cathedral Church of Rome. Originally named after Our Savior, it was later placed under the patronage of Saint John. First built by the Emperor Constantine in about 324 on the Lateran Hill, the basilica is called "the mother and head of all the churches of the City and the World" and is one of the four major pilgrimage churches in Rome.