Basic Information

Mass Location: St. Mary Magdalen Chapel, 2532 Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, CA 93010
Mass Time: Sunday 10 a.m. (check parish website bulletin for special feastdays which may be different)
Confessions: 9:00-9:45 a.m. - see schedule below

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Homily - Dedication of the Archbasilica of Our Holy Savior - November 9, 2014

Ap. 21:2-5; Lk. 19:1-10

Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Archbasilica of Our Holy Savior, departing from the Sundays after Pentecost, over which this feast takes precedence.  Whenever we celebrate the dedication of a church, we recall the foundations of our faith.  The Church is a living reality.  St. Peter says to the newly baptized in his First Epistle, that we are living stones, incorporated into Christ, the living body of the Church.  The Church is a sacred reality, formed by the saving action which takes place within the church building giving us an encounter with Christ and with salvation.  Anytime we celebrate the dedication of a church, we show our gratitude for these gifts.

The Dedication of the Archbasilica of Our Holy Savior brings this appreciation to a new level.  Most people think of St. Peter’s as the pope’s church, but the church we honor today is the cathedral of the city of Rome, where the pope presides over the universal Catholic Church.  It is commonly referred to as St. John Lateran, as it was dedicated to the Savior in honor of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, and originally built by Constantine on land donated by the Lateran family.  The original church was damaged by fire in the 14th century, and rebuilt and dedicated in the 1600s.

And so it is the feast of all of us and, and with our mind’s eye, a capsule of all the means which the Lord has given to us to achieve our salvation.  Today, we want to remember especially two things, first and foremost the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.  The Mass is the Sacrifice of Christ in time and the sacrament of His real presence, body, blood, soul, and divinity.  In any community, there are many churches, and they do many of the things that we do:  they gather, they sing, they pray, they proclaim the Gospel, they may even have something like a communion service.  But there is only one altar of sacrifice, the sacrifice of Christ, and this is found in every Catholic Church.  There is one thing the Lord asked us to do in His memory.  At the Last Supper, as He gave us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, He said, “Do this in memory of me.”  This, we do out of obedience and love.

And the charism of the pope.  Our retired Holy Father, Pope Benedict, at his installation, said the pope presides over the Church in truth and charity.  The presence of the pope guarantees the authenticity of our faith, as apostolic, founded by our Lord on St. Peter, to whom He said the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, protecting the Church from final error.  In any community, there are many churches, and some may even have a valid Eucharist, but only in the Catholic Church do we possess the charism of Peter, and the whole truth which God has revealed to us about Himself and our salvation.

The Church is a portent of the New Jerusalem, which we see in our Epistle today.  It is from above.  It comes down from heaven.  The work of the Church is God’s work, to be fulfilled in the Kingdom of God, the heavenly city.  The Gospel, in a wonderful way, captures the whole cycle of conversion.  Zachaeus is drawn to the Lord.  He wishes to see Him.  He climbs the sycamore tree.  Up to this time, he is an observer.  The Lord sees him and calls Him.  The gift of faith and our call always finds its initiative in God.  The Lord says, “Zachaeus, come down, at once.”  How much the Lord wants to be united with us in faith and communion.  Zachaeus comes down, and now he is a participant.  He makes a great response of faith, willing to make good his failures in fourfold, much more than the law would require.  In this poignant moment, He says these words we all long for to Zachaeus, “Today, salvation has come to this house.”  The Gospel shows us that our encounter with Christ today is an encounter with salvation.

Many years ago, I attended the birthday party of my young niece who was turning four.  My sister-in-law, her mother, was sitting next to her.  Every time she went to open up one of her gifts, her mother would say to her, “Open the card first.”  Something like that happens today.  As we commemorate our feast, making a gift of the Archbasilica of our Holy Savior and of ourselves, God opens the card first, and He reads the prayers from our hearts.  Even as we offer our gifts, we thank Him for what He has given us, His presence, His grace, His truth, His charity, all of which we pledge to use well for His glory and the salvation of souls.