Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran
32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
November 9th, 2014
Year A

During my 4 years of college I had the opportunity to study in Austria, at the sister campus of Franciscan University my alma mater. In March, the faculty of the University led a pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi. It was during that time we were escorted all through Rome with private tours given by American seminarians of the various basilicas and historical sites of the Eternal City. Years later, as a seminarian in Rome, I decided to give back to my University and give tours of the Basilica of St. John Lateran for these pilgrimage groups when they came to town. It became, and still is, my favorite of all the 4 major basilicas in Rome – and it was on this very date in 324 AD that Pope Sylvester I dedicated it as the first of all the Churches of the world. Speaking about the meaning of churches, Pope St. John Paul II once wrote that: “the beauty and the harmony of churches, destined to render praise to God invite us human beings too, though limited and sinful, to convert ourselves to form a ‘cosmos,’ a well-ordered construction, in close communion with Jesus, who is the true Holy of Holies.” Following this line of thought from JPII, there are two points to be made here.

First point: this is precisely what Jesus sees in the Temple – the Holy of Holies, the place of worship and praise and not that of a marketplace, not the place of a social hall but rather a place of prayer, of quiet, and of calm. During the Passover, because of the larger crowd, the outer courtyard of the Temple was filled with moneychangers and traders. Inevitably this meant noise, chatter, shouting, animals, food, and manure all within the Temple area. In His justified anger over the horror He sees in the Temple, Jesus quotes Psalm 69: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” He recognized the disorder of the Temple and wanted to set things right. He can thus identify with the Psalmist since both are finding opposition to their commitment to God’s cause. They both want to make God the priority of the people. It is to remind them that, as Pope St. John Paul II said so rightly, that the Temple building – or in our case, the church/chapel – is meant to foster in our hearts and minds an order, beauty and harmony that all look upwards to God and brings us into greater communion with Him. Thus, the church building itself has meaning – like stepping into heaven. We ought, therefore, to treat this space as it is meant to be – sacred. It is really is not the place for socializing or chatter but rather for prayer, meditation, for quiet so that we may be able to hear the voice God – present here in the Eucharist – speak directly to our hearts. It is for this very reason that we bless ourselves and genuflect when entering and exiting the chapel. It is why we bow to the altar – all of which shows in outward expression the due reverence that is given to this sacred space and to show that God is the priority, in this space and in our hearts.

Second point: like Christ in the Temple, this is the aim of the New Evangelization and the work of priests and religious. Those who dedicate themselves in our own day to God’s cause can be seen to be like Christ in this way – a desire and zeal to make God a priority again in the lives of those who are overrun by the secular culture and relativism of the modern world. They strive to renew and make known the love and mercy of God to those who have grown cold or stale. Religious brothers and sisters and priests, through their acts of charity and witness to the kingdom remind us of the destiny to which we are called and the goal of our faith – union with God in heaven. The work of the priests, particularly the celebration of the sacraments – especially that of Sacrifice of the Mass – are meant to bridge the great divide between heaven and earth. Thus in our churches, through the words, gestures and rites of the Mass, heaven comes to us through the hands of a priest. Together, in their ministry, they show zeal for the kingdom.

In our ordinary Christian lives one thing is clear: that whether a person is a religious brother, sister, priest, married with children or a single person in the world, Christ Himself must be the foundation of our lives. When considering a vocation to religious life or the priesthood, Christ must be the foundation of a person’s life. Parents therefore must be rooted firmly in the faith so that their children have a foundation of faith from which to build. And that foundation is established first by recognizing the place where God makes His dwelling – behind the doors of the tabernacle in every Catholic Church throughout the world. So, whether we are at the Lateran Basilica in Rome or Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel in Amherst, MA, Christ is here in this place, in this chapel. It is in this sacred space, where we find Him, where we can pour our hearts out to Him, spend time in His presence, in silence and listen to His voice calling us to follow Him and live our lives more firmly rooted in His love.


Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.

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