Homily for the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica and Remembrance Sunday

Homily (sermon) - Remembrance Sunday

Readings for the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica  Year A:
Ezekiel 47:1-2,8-9,12, Psalm 45, 1 Corinthians 3:9-11,16-17, John 2:13-22

[All these readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks. Remember to scroll down for the readings of the day.]

The Church today is celebrating the dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. The feast is one of unity towards the See of Peter and is celebrated across the world. The readings teach of Christ’s love for His father’s house and Paul describes how Christ built the foundation of the Church, the Church that each one of us is a part of.

We are called to build our Church, to continue to grow our Church. We are the stones, the bricks, the steel and glass, the beams and windows of our Church today. We are building our Church as we were instructed, we are building our Church from our love of God, we are building our Church to serve our world today. Our children will build on us and their children will build on them. The Church therefore always grows, always adapts, and is always ready to face the challenges of the current world.

We may think the world of 2014 has it problems. But 100 years ago the problems the world had were much worse. Since the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28th 1914 the world had been descending into war. The Great War started on August 1st, and Britain declared war on Germany on August 4th. One hundred years ago today British troops were dying at Ypres.

Today we remember the sacrifice of those who fought and those who died. The 888,246 British soldiers who lost their lives in The Great War. The 65 million people that were killed during that war. The 170 million who have died in war in the last 100 years.

But today we are directed by our scripture to look to our Church, we need to look at the stones we have been laid upon, the people who were the Church 100 years ago, we need to thank God for them and for their work. Then we need to challenge ourselves to build a Church to serve the world we see today. The smallest of things can make a surprising difference.

During the first world war the Catholic Woman League made a request for funds to build a recreation hut for the soldiers in Boulogne.  Immediate and generous donation allowed the ladies to open this hut for the soldiers. More followed all across Europe, and all were staffed by the Catholic ladies of the CWL. By the end of The Great War there were 35 huts providing for practical and the spiritual needs of the soldiers. Meals were provided 24 hours a day, and Mass was said on Sundays. Some huts even had permanent alters. After the war these huts provided help in rebuilding the shattered towns and villages.

As the world descended into World War II the CWL restarted the huts and over the next few years opened and staffed over 180 canteens and huts around the world. These continued long after the war and again helped to rebuild.

There are now shrines in many of the places where these huts stood. A crucifix in Westminster cathedral is made from the Cross that stood next the Westminster Hut. Next time you are there I think you can see it on the wall in the gift shop.

The huts are now all gone and few people would remember or know of the work those ladies did during the two wars. But the work, like the work of the Church we are all called to do, didn’t stop with the last hut. No, as the huts were closed and the land sold, the money was put to good use and is still being used today. The CWL Service Committee works closely with the Catholic Bishop to the Forces to help anyone connected to the forces, who is in need. Beds, wheel chairs and school books have already been provided. During the most recent war in Afghanistan the committee was asked to provide flip-flops and shorts for injured soldiers who they heard only has combat boots to wear while recover from leg wounds.

As Ezekiel said in our first reading, there is a river that flows from our Church, and where that river passes there is life. The ladies who built and staffed that first hut almost 100 years ago, built the Church their world needed, and where they passed they brought life. The ladies who manage the Service Committee today are building the Church our world needs and their work brings life. You are a stone in that same Church. What are you building for the world today and where will you bring life to today’s world.

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