Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12; Psalm 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9; 1 Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17;John 2:13-22
Zeal for your house will consume me. (John 2:17)
Imagine a church adorned with marble columns, bursting with colors, gold ceilings, marble floors, walls covered with New Testament scenes, a mosaic of Mary and the saints, and a seven-meter high statue of Jesus Christ. This is the Lateran Basilica in Rome.
This building isn’t just visually stunning; it has a rich history as well. As the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, it is considered the pope’s church in his capacity as bishop of Rome. The emperor Constantine donated the land for it to Pope Melchiades around a.d. 311, and had a church built there for him. Until the construction of St. Peter’s in the sixteenth century, the popes lived in a residence built on the site as well.
Over time, the Lateran Basilica has faced many hardships. It has been sacked, damaged by more than one fire, and nearly destroyed by an earthquake. But even in these challenges, this historic church, which is a symbol for bishops everywhere, can teach us. Like the Lateran, the universal Church is both stunningly beautiful and has faced many challenges. It has been persecuted, and some of its members and leaders have made mistakes that have inflicted grievous wounds on it. Many bishops have handled their responsibilities well; some have not.
None of this should surprise us. The Church is made up of imperfect people, and bishops are no exception. Like us, they face temptation, and so they need support. As our brothers in Christ, they need our prayers, our encouragement, and the witness of our lives.
Try something different today. Write a letter or e-mail to your bishop! Tell him you’re praying for him. Rather than asking something of him, just encourage him, and lift him up to the Lord.
“Thank you, Father, for those you have called to be bishops. Bless them and protect them. Together with them, we all pray, ‘Lead us not into temptation.’ ”~WAU