As we approach the end of the Easter season and Christ has ascended into heaven, we prepare to commemorate the events at Pentecost. Today’s readings show us the early Catholic Church in formation.
In the first reading, we once again see Peter, the first Pope takes leadership of all (120 in number). He speaks with authority regarding Judas and who is to be chosen to replace him. As you may know, the apostles were the first bishops. The offices of the priest and deacon as we know them today still did not fully develop (Acts 15:6, 23, Acts 1:20, 1 Timothy 3:8-13, Philippians 1:1). These offices would form to be part of the kingdom of priests caring for the Church (Revelation 1:6, Revelation 5:10). By Peter being the one leading the selection to replace Judas, we see how important his role is. This is why only Popes appoint bishops. Peter had to choose a replacement for Judas because the 12 apostles represent the 12 tribes of the old covenant. Jesus did not abolish the old, but fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). He began a kingdom with a new Jerusalem on the throne of David (Psalm 122:4-5, Revelation 21:9-14, Galatians 6:16).This new kingdom would be founded on Peter or “the rock.” Peter would be given the keys which are linked to the Davidic throne (Isaiah 22:20-22, Revelations 3:7). You can read more on the primacy of Peter and the Papacy here: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2013/02/the-chair-of-peter.html. The responsorial Psalm continues with the theme of the throne.
The Psalm for today reminds us that God has set His throne in heaven. Since heaven is above, this means that God’s throne rules over all (Psalm 47:8, Psalm 22:28). From this throne, God views all and orders all today His purpose (Proverbs 3:6).
In the second reading, we are once again reminded that we must love one another. This is one of the most important essences of Christianity. Christianity is not a religion of the self like Buddahism, Taoism and so forth. It is a religion of love which serves others (Matthew 5:44, Matthew 25:35-46). If we are Christian, yet do not love anyone, then we cease being Christian (John 13:35). This is because God is love and commanded us to love (1 John 4:8). As the reading says today, “..if we love one another, God remains in us..”
Lastly in the Gospel, we read of Jesus praying to God the Father. He asks the Father to keep the apostles in His name. He also asks the Father that the apostles be one. We see here how important the Church is to Jesus. The Church has to be of one mind, heart and body, so to speak (Ephesians 4:4-6). She is the pillar of truth (1 Timothy 3:15). Unfortunately, due to human egos and other reasons, the Church has lost members who have created their own “churches” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). We must join our prayers to that of Jesus by asking God to make us one again. Christianity must be only One Catholic Church and not a Catholic Church along with other smaller groups claiming to be the Catholic Church or the “true Church.” Jesus said He would build HIs Church on Peter, not churches (Matthew 16:18). In my opinion, I believe this is the reason why many are leaving the faith. They see all these different “churches” competing with one another and ask themselves, “how can there be truth if there are different variations of it?” This then leads to doubt and alienation from Christianity and eventually God. This week a study was released claiming that Christianity is on the decline, in particularly Catholicism. I address this here: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2015/05/pew-study-christianity-declining-in-usa.html.
We must try our best to bring Protestants, the Orthodox who refuse to accept the Papacy and others back into unity with Rome (Matthew 5:24). This is what Christ desired. We must ask the Father along with Jesus to consecrate all of us in truth. It should be the truth that keeps us united because Jesus is the truth and there is only one Jesus (John 14:6). Unfortunately, our attempts to understand this truth and the egos behind it keep us from unity. As we approach Pentecost, we must ask the Holy Spirit to unite the Church since He is the spirit of truth and our paraclete (helper) (John 14:16). We must be true witnesses to the truth in the world so as to bring it to Christ. This truth is not popular. We will be hated because of Christ (Matthew 24:9). Today we are seeing this more publicly with the persecution from Isis, governments, the LGBT movement, secularists and so forth. It is a battle between what God wills and what I want to do. Nevertheless, we may suffer, lose members, parishes may close, there may be shortages of priests, but in the end we will win because Christ already won. We must remain faithful and go through the storm (Romans 5:3-5). In the end, we will receive the crown (James 1:12, 1 Corinthians 9:25). As Catholics, we must evangelize. Being Catholic is not something we only do on Sundays. At work, in school, in public, within families, we must preach Christ even when Catholicism may be unpopular. It is via the way we live our Catholicism that others will be either attracted to it or disgusted by it. Let us pray for the Catholic Church, for more vocations, for the Holy Father the Pope. May Jesus be praised forever!
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