Every year on November 09th the Church celebrates the dedication of the pope’s cathedral.
It gives us the opportunity to reflect briefly on what the church is, or at least what it should be. What we should be. What we are, however dim our reflection might be!
Typical of the scriptures generally, the first reading, Ezekiel 47:1-2,8-9,12 uses an image we can all understand; the image of water and in this case the image of a river flowing from the Temple to the sea.
Enniscorthy is built on a river. Every town the length and breath of Ireland is built around a water supply.
Apply the image to the Church. The growing river symbolizes our growing relationship with God. If we don’t connect to God here (in this building) then we’ll die of thirst, this church will die out. We’ve nothing to pass on that the atheist can’t pass on! Much of the present crisis in the church is to be found here.
The river flows to the sea and fulfills itself there. The sea symbolizes the fullness of God (heaven). So too with us, we should be flowing towards God and if we are we’ll produce fruit
symbolized by the fertility of the river bank; “along the river… will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails… And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal.”
The second reading, 1 Cor 3:9-11,16-17 tells us that the church is not about buildings but about people, a people, a people becoming the body of Christ.
In the Gospel, John 2:13-22 Jesus makes it very clear that the church is to be a house of prayer, the place of encounter with the Divine. In my twenty odd years of priesthood I think there’s been a growing tendency to turn it into everything but a house of prayer!
Finally, Jesus reference to the sanctuary of his body confirms the true meaning and destiny of the church.