Dedication of the Basilicas of St. Peter & St. Paul – Luke 19:41-44
Today, we celebrate the dedication of the basilicas of St. Peter & St. Paul, two of the four major basilicas in Rome. (The other two major basilicas are St. Mary Major & St. John Lateran – our Church also celebrates the feasts of their dedications as well). The basilica of St. Peter is perhaps one of the most well-known places of worship in all of Christianity – the current structure began to be rebuilt in the year 1506, but its construction was not completed until the year 1626 under the papacy of Urban VIII.
In the context of this feast day, our Gospel reading today take place in the city of Jerusalem, with Jesus approaching this holy city for the last time during his public ministry here on earth. He is overcome with emotion & starts to weep, knowing in his heart the destruction & calamity that will soon befall the city. Jesus knew that the ancient Jews have really struggled in order to follow God throughout their history, to practice their faith with obedience, to live out their faith in their daily lives. Perhaps we also struggle with the same things that the faithful in ancient Israel struggled with in the practice of their faith. I imagine that Jesus had all this in mind as he wept – the importance of Jerusalem & the Temple to the Jewish people & the practice of their faith, the struggles that the people of Israel endured throughout their turbulent history. Indeed, the city of Jerusalem & the great Temple were destroyed in the year 70 AD by the Roman forces, not many years after Jesus’ death. Since the Temple was the center of the Jewish faith, the practice of Judaism changed dramatically after its destruction, since the worship & sacrifices offered there were the life-giving focus of their religious practices. As we honor the two great basilicas of St. Peter & St. Paul through the feast we celebrate today, as we remember Jesus weeping as he approaches Jerusalem, may we appreciate the opportunity to worship God that we have each time we get together as a community of faith here in this beautiful place of worship.