Commentary on the Gospel of
Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
I hold in my imagination a photo sent from someone who works in mission territory. Thanks to the generosity of benefactors, the village where he serves was able to dig a well and to provide a hand pump to bring fresh water into the heart of the village. The photo depicts the moment when the villagers gathered to celebrate the first water to emerge from the well. The photo captures the expressions of delight on the faces of those who experience this new gift of life in their midst.
The image comes to mind as I hear the words of today’s psalm: “There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God” or, as the refrain has it: “The waters of the river gladden the city of God.” Ezekiel’s vision of a river flowing from the temple in Jerusalem, depicting the gift of God’s life, finds new emphasis and depth on this feast day as an image of the Holy Spirit flooding the life of the Church, now and in the age to come.
This feast gives us the opportunity to renew our belief that the Holy Spirit remains the soul, the animator of the Body of Christ, providing a hidden though powerful source of life, light, holiness, renewal, inspiration, and, perhaps most of all, joy. Yes, this Holy Spirit brings joy to the Church in every age and in every human heart. We recall the words of Pierre Teilard de Chardin: “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”
These days in the life of the Church seem to be accompanied by much darkness together with a yearning for much renewal. May we take courage today that the Holy Spirit never abandons the Church but, as history shows, brings unexpected light out of the darkest of places. May this light, be our hope and our joy.