Speak Lord: Baptised into Christ, a holy temple

John Lateran baptistery 2

The second reading read at Sunday’s Mass, for the feast of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica came from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.

You are God’s building. By the grace God gave me, I succeeded as an architect and laid the foundations, on which someone else is doing the building. Everyone doing the building must work carefully. For the foundation, nobody can lay any other than the one which has already been laid, that is Jesus Christ.

Didn’t you realise that you were God’s temple and that the Spirit of God was living among you? If anybody should destroy the temple of God, God will destroy him, because the temple of God is sacred; and you are that temple.

1 Corinthians 3:9-11,16-17

The building of faith that is the Church has a permanence that extends beyond time. As Buzz Lightyear might say ‘To infinity and beyond!’ And through our baptism and God’s grace that permanence includes us.

The blog yesterday contained a translation of verses from the baptistery of St John Lateran by Aidan Kavanagh, OSB  – a great, and late, American liturgist, who, please God, is now himself enjoying the permanence which is beyond this world.  One work in particular merits reading in this month of November and in the wake of Sunday’s great feast. Click here to access it.

It is an imaginative reconstruction of a 4th Century baptism. The historical reconstruction is very valuable, and entertaining. But for me of still greater note is the emotional truth of the story of faith that he tells.

It is not short, but it is well worth reading.

Finally, a sad fact but true – baptisms in the ancient and evocative baptistery of St John Lateran seem no longer to be carried our in the flood of the pool, or even in the plentiful water that might fill the sarcophagus now standing in the empty pool, but in a little glass bowl brought out for the occasion. Of such conveniences is born not only paucity of symbol and shallow communication of sacramental grace but decay of the symbolic imagination.

  • What short cuts are you likely to take in your living of today? What might be their cumulative effect on your life and the lives of those around you? For good? For bad?

 Photograph of Baptistery, St John Lateran. Photograph (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

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