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Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

Today we celebrate the dedication of the ancient St. John Lateran Basilica, one of the most important Christian basilicas in Rome. In the fourth century A.D., Constantine, who was the first Christian Emperor, built a chapel on land that was given to his wife. Throughout the centuries, that chapel has been destroyed, rebuilt, expanded, and renovated numerous times. But it has always been recognized as the cathedral church of the bishop of Rome.

One of the most striking features of the St. John Lateran Basilica is an inscription found in the baptistery which says: “This is the fountain of life, which cleanses the whole world, taking its course from the wounds of Christ.” It is a powerful reminder that the Church exists to carry on the work of Christ in the world.

In the first reading, the prophet Ezekiel saw healing water flowing from the Temple and going out in all directions. In one sense, that is us. We are the temples of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus wants to fill us to overflowing. In order to bring Christ to the world, however, we must plunge deeply into the fountain of life ourselves. Personal prayer, the gift of the sacraments, the wisdom of Scripture, the love of our brothers and sisters in Christ, all of these are their own founts of life for us. If Constantine, the most powerful man in the western world at that time, could be converted through the witness of Christians, imagine what our witnessing could do for our neighbors, friends, and co-workers. If we immerse ourselves in Christ, we really can change the world.

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