Sunday Vigil

Share On

Memory of the dedication of the Cathedral of Rome, the Basilica of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist in the Lateran. Prayer for the Church of Rome. Memory of the “Crystal Night,” the beginning of the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

John 4, 19-24

'I see you are a prophet, sir,' said the woman.

'Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, though you say that Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.'

Jesus said: Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.

You worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know; for salvation comes from the Jews.

But the hour is coming -- indeed is already here -- when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth: that is the kind of worshipper the Father seeks.

God is spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and truth.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The memory of the dedication of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, celebrated particularly in Rome, is however precious everywhere and for this reason is on the liturgical calendar of the Latin Church. Today, therefore, we are all going on a sort of spiritual pilgrimage to the cathedral of the Church of Rome and gathering around the Pope to be confirmed by him in the common faith of the Lord. It was the beginning of the fourth century when Pope Sylvester I, accompanied by the Roman clergy, entered into the new Basilica to consecrate it to the prayer of the Christian community. It was still not possible at that time to build churches inside the city walls and Constantine designated land from his property outside the walls to build the cathedral of Rome. The pope, like the liturgical rite anticipated, sprinkled holy water on the walls and signed them with twelve crosses as a way of indicating the twelve gates of the heavenly Jerusalem. He then went to the altar, the sign of Christ, the keystone of the new temple, and consecrated it with holy oil and incense. It was a day of celebration for the entire Church of Rome. And, today it is a festival for the entire Church. Yes, all the Churches, even those that are not in full communion with the Catholic Church, today can and should look upon this place on earth as a representation of the heavenly Jerusalem. Today, however, we are not simply remembering an event of the past; nor are we re-evoking the opening of some kind of a museum. That day was a holy day for Rome; truly a day on which the sun did not set. Here, as in every cathedral and church in the world, God’s mercy and presence never sets. We are speaking of the Basilica of Saint John, but we intend to refer to all of the cathedrals throughout the world. In them, we, men and women of the earth, are gathered together and transformed into heaven’s citizens, that is, into the God’s true temple, the place where He has made his dwelling. Nobody is holy alone; nothing is sacred by itself. A place becomes sacred when God sanctifies it, when God dwells there. Addressing Christians in Corinth, Paul said, “Brothers and sisters, you are the building of God;” and gravely he added for those with little memory: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple” (1 Co 3:16-17). We are God’s temple. Thus we are able to understand, then, the meaning of the words Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman and that today are newly proclaimed: “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him” (Jn 4:23). To worship the Father in spirit and truth means letting ourselves fill our heart with the Lord’s grace; allowing His Word to pour over us and build us up as a spiritual temple. The holy temple on earth is a model from which we can take inspiration. This is why in the face of every religious individualism we must ask ourselves what would happen to our buildings of worship if every stone, whether small or large, decided to separate itself and lie strewn in the fields. Simply, they would not exist anymore. And if we try to build beautiful and precious churches (and it is sad how many carelessly built churches we see) it is because they help us to build up the beauty and preciousness of our communion.