Thursday, April 20, 2017

We are the Church

We are the Church
from a sermon by Saint Caesarius of Arles on the anniversary of the Dedication of Saint John Lateran
               My fellow Christians, today is the birthday of this church, and occasion for celebration and rejoicing.  We, however, ought to be the true and living temple of God.  Nevertheless, Christians rightly commemorate this feast of the church, their mother, for they know that through her they were reborn in the spirit.  Our first birth brought death to us, but our second restored us to life.
               If we think more carefully about the meaning of our salvation, we shall realize that we are indeed living and true temples of God.  God does not dwell only in structures fashioned by human hands, in homes of wood and stone, but rather he dwells principally in the soul made according to his own image and fashioned by his own hand.  Therefore, the apostle Paul says: The temple of God is holy, and you are that temple.
               God himself in his loving mercy saw fit to make of us his own home.  When Christ came, he banished evil from our hearts, in order to build in them a temple for himself.  Let us therefore do what we can with his help, so that our evil deeds will not deface that temple.  For whoever does evil, does injury to Christ. 
               My fellow Christians, do we wish to celebrate joyfully the birth of this temple?  Then let us not destroy the living temples of God in ourselves by works of evil.  Whenever we come to church, we must prepare our hearts to be as beautiful as we expect the church to be.  Do you wish to find this basilica immaculately clean?  Then do not soil your soul with the filth of sins.  Do you wish the basilica to be full of light?  God too wishes that your soul be not in darkness, but that the light of good works shine in us, so that he who dwells in the heavens will be glorified.  Just as you enter this church building, so god wishes to enter into your soul, for he promised: I shall  live in them, and I shall walk the corridors of their hearts.
               Do you enter this church with the attitude that you are coming to spend time with Christ?  If you were really in His presence, you would not want to leave, you would want to bask in his light and love forever.  He is present in this church, in this temple.  He is present in your heart, your temple- unless you have asked Him to leave.  You are the temple of the Lord.  He speaks to you when you are quiet and can listen.  The Mass Journals were given out so you could save what he says to you.  Use them to savor the conversation!

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