Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Politics and Religion...

A friend of mine reminded me of how easy it is to get drawn into the political turmoil that is being made even worse by our American mainstream media.  While not necessarily always false, too often they are simply portrayed in a way that is either negative or makes a single scapegoat out of a situation that has not only a much more varied and nuanced truth but also has the involvement of many people.  We do have to be aware of who these people are, and what they've done.. but we also have to bring into the arena compassion and not forget the dignity of that person.  Am I defending any of the candidates?  No.  I personally am not a fan of the political stance of either of the front runners.  Simply reminding myself that kindness is paramount and that we must check our sources diligently to find the truth.

In tomorrow's Gospel Jesus reminds of us of that as well.  “I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me."  Jesus sent the Apostles with a unique mission that we too take on, but they fulfill in a specific and distinct office.  These Apostles were chosen to initiate that mission, to be the first to evangelize the world, and to go forth with the authority of Christ himself to forgive sins and baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  They were sent into the world to teach the word of truth.  Christ is that word, it is in him that we understand exactly what their mission was and exactly what our mission is.

Jesus is the Father's Emissary. From the beginning of his ministry, he "called to him those whom he desired; . . . . And he appointed twelve, whom also he named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach." From then on, they would also be his "emissaries" (Greek apostoloi). In them, Christ continues his own mission: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." The apostles' ministry is the continuation of his mission; Jesus said to the Twelve: "he who receives you receives me."   (CCC 858)

How then do we see the Christian church divided?  The Apostles appointed successors, of that we see the truth in the appointment of Matthias. (Acts 1:12-26)  Eventually these became known as Bishops and the Chair of Peter as the See of Rome.   For 1000 years there was only one church, the Catholic church.   Then men started breaking off of it and making their own version, deserting the teaching of those Apostles.   The very Gospel which Paul declared we should reject even if "an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed."  (Galatians 1:8)  How do we justify that in our own minds?  I did myself for many years, mostly because I was unaware of history.   Mostly because I had spent all of that time only reading a book, a book that belonged to the Catholic church, without listening to the author.  That would be like taking a book on science, reading it and then ignoring the writer when he tells me I got it wrong.

Why is it important?   Because in Jesus Christ we have the fullest revelation of God.. the final revelation of God... everything we need to know is in that revelation.  If that is true, if we truly believe that Christ is the Son of God and that He Himself is a part of the trinity.. then knowing Him.. being in relationship with Him, learning about Him... loving Him is paramount.  We can't know Him if we don't get the full story, if we don't realize He is more than text on a page.. but a living person.   He didn't stop being man when he went to Heaven, and he didn't stop being God when he came to earth.  He will be the same person for eternity, and the Apostles knew Him, walked with Him, learned from Him.

In Jesus Christ, the whole of God's truth has been made manifest. "Full of grace and truth," he came as the "light of the world," he is the Truth. "Whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness." The disciple of Jesus continues in his word so as to know "the truth [that] will make you free" and that sanctifies. To follow Jesus is to live in "the Spirit of truth," whom the Father sends in his name and who leads "into all the truth." To his disciples Jesus teaches the unconditional love of truth: "Let what you say be simply 'Yes or No.'"  (CCC 2466)

Jesus is that Word of truth.   So take advantage of that.   Begin to read and study history, both secular and Church history.   Look at the writings of early Christians and see what they believed.   Find your way to one of successors of the Apostles,  of which only the Catholic churches can claim an unbroken line of succession directly to one of the twelve themselves.  Then open yourself to the reality that Christ has poured himself out into our lives through the Sacraments of those churches to bring us into full communion with Him and the Father.   "I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one."  What more perfect description of communion can you get?  Than to receive Jesus Christ himself; body, soul and divinity; into your very body? All too often people smear the Catholic church and drag it through the mud.. but it's time.. it's time to check your sources and to see exactly what we believe.

His servant and yours,

"He must increase, I must decrease."