“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
PRAYER OF THE WEEK
For your mercies’ sake, O Lord my God, tell me what you are to me. Say to my soul: “I am your salvation.” So speak that I may hear, O Lord; my heart is listening; open it that it may hear you, and say to my soul: “I am your salvation.” After hearing this word, may I come in haste to take hold of you. Hide not your face from me. Let me see your face even if I die, lest I die with longing to see it. The house of my soul is too small to receive you; let it be enlarged by you. It is all in ruins; do you repair it. There are things in it – I confess and I know – that must offend your sight. But who shall cleanse it? Or to what others besides you shall I cry out? From my secret sins cleanse me, O Lord, and from those of others spare your servant. Amen.
Saint Augustine of Hippo
O God, who show the light of your truth
to those who go astray,
so that they may return to the right path,
give all who for the faith they profess
are accounted Christians
the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ
and to strive after all that does it honor.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amaziah, priest of Bethel, said to Amos,
“Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah!
There earn your bread by prophesying,
but never again prophesy in Bethel;
for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.”
Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet,
nor have I belonged to a company of prophets;
I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.
The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me,
Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”
What happened to the prophet Amos in Israel eight hundred years before Christ, has happened again and again down through the centuries and is happening in our own day on a larger scale than ever before. This man of God was expelled and silenced because those in authority could not listen to the reproofs of the Lord which their injustices, inhumanity and irreligion so richly deserved. Had the king and his associates listened to the prophet and mended their ways, they would have saved their people from exile and their nation would not have been wiped off the map. But because they would not submit to the Lord their God, they were made slaves of the neighboring pagan nation.
The prophets who were sent to speak God’s “word” were made to suffer and were silenced. The Word of God, the Son of God himself, who became man to lead all men back to their eternal Father, suffered even a worse, fate. The pride and prejudice of the leaders of the Jews, God’s Chosen People, had him condemned to a criminal’s death as if he were an outcast from society and a blasphemer to boot. They would not accept the Son of God in human form – the “Word made flesh” came unto his own and his own received him not.
The Church which he founded to carry on and complete his work of redemption was threatened with the same fate. The Jewish authorities tried to strangle that infant Church in Jerusalem, in Palestine and even in, faraway Damascus in Syria, but God’s hand was raised in its defense—and its enemies failed. A few decades later the Roman emperors tried to do what the Jewish authorities had failed to do. But even though they persevered in their evil intent for almost three centuries, they too were fighting against the power of God – and they failed. Many saintly men and women gladly gave their lives for their faith but their deaths increased rather than diminished the number of Christians; for as St. Angustine said: “the blood of martyrs became the seed of Christians.” The Church grew daily and spread through the Roman empire.
From the beginning of the fourth century down to the twentieth, there have been, periods of persecution in different parts of the world. When compared, however, with the widespread disinterest in God and the things of God in most of today’s world, together with the absolute rejection of Christ and God in very many parts of it, the irreligion and opposition to religion in the past were restrained and limited. Behind the bamboo curtain today the destructive philosophy or folly of atheism is being imposed on more than a third of the world’s population. God is excluded from the world he created, man is using the, gifts of intellect and freewill, given him by God, to deny and destroy his divine benefactor. What is worse: two-thirds of the so-called believers are not shocked or disturbed by this sad behavior of God’s children. The nominal Christian nations are indifferent as long as these atheistic ideas do not interfere with their own political or commercial interests. It’s a sign of how little their belief in God and Christ affects their own daily lives and way of thinking.
Today we are living in a world in which the Creator and Lord of that world is given little or no say. Men think they can despise the road rules which he has so wisely laid down and still run human traffic successfully. Head-on crashes, wars and rumors of wars, the expensive build-up of armaments, the gross injustices inflicted on the weak, the inhumanity of men to their fellowmen are the visible proofs of the folly of such a philosophy. It is like trying to navigate a ship when the navigator has been thrown overboard. The world must come back to God and to his ten commandments. No society can survive without rules. The all-wise rules for human society are God’s decalog. We can ignore them only at our peril. To expel God’s prophets and shut our ears to his wise counsels may silence our troubled consciences for a moment, but this will not restore our social health or promote our true welfare. This world is not the sanctuary of any earthly ruler, nor the temple of any human king; it is God’s temple, God’s sanctuary where he expects his creatures to serve him devoutly and loyally.
Ps 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD –for he proclaims peace.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and prepare the way of his steps.
Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.
In him we have redemption by his blood,
the forgiveness of transgressions,
in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.
In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us
the mystery of his will in accord with his favor
that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times,
to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.
In him we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ.
In him you also, who have heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him,
were sealed with the promised holy Spirit,
which is the first installment of our inheritance
toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.
In these opening verses of his letter, St. Paul recalls to the minds of his Ephesian converts the basic teaching, the fundamental and central meaning of the Christian faith which he had taught them. In his infinite love, God the Father planned from all eternity to make us his adopted sons, by means of the incarnation of his only begotten Son. “He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” This is surely a tremendous truth – a truth that not only changes our whole outlook on life but our very nature itself. As intelligent creatures, the highest of all the other living beings that God put on this earth, we should have much to be grateful for. We have been given life. We are able to think and plan and provide for our needs, to enjoy the beautiful and seek after the good. We are able to study, control and put to our own use myriad’s of inanimate things, as well as the other animate beings God created. We have fellow humans with whom we can converse and share the joys of living. God had so arranged things that we were born into a human family where tenderness and love were showered on us during infancy and adolescence. When we came to the age of responsibility we could have formed a new family, a new association where in turn we would shower love and tenderness on our offspring who would, we should hope, look after us in our declining years.
Creation then was surely a marvelous gift given us by God. But just because of the special gifts he gave us which raise us above all other earthly creatures, could we really enjoy these few short years of life on this earth if we know there was nothing but the gloomy grave awaiting us? If our sixty or eighty years were made up of days of unbroken happiness would we be content with that and nothing else. But as they are years heavily tinged with sorrow and sadness for so many would we not have less reason to be content with our fate? Good as God was to give us life would we not feel that we were somehow treated unfairly by Him?
However, once we know that God exists and once we know from revelation that he is a God of infinite love, we can see how it was in keeping with his love and thoughtfulness that he would arrange a future life for us in which the created gifts which he gave us, would be used to the full, capacity. This God did through the incarnation. We are made heirs to heaven because Christ, the Son of God, made us his brothers when he took our human nature and joined it to his divinity. We shall die to this earth and bid adieu to all its God-given gifts, but for the true Christian, death will mean a change for the better, it will be the door to the true unending life. “Vita mutatur non tollitur,” as we say in the requiem Mass: for the Christian “life is changed not taken away” by death.
The coming of Christ then has not only changed our outlook on life; we no longer see it in terms of days or years – we, look on it from the angle of eternity. Christ’s coming has also changed our very nature itself. We are no longer mere human beings, we are raised to the supernatural status of sons of God, we belong to God’s heaven, God’s home, is our home. Our life on earth is only a pilgrimage, a short journey, during which we work our passage to our everlasting home, our eternal fatherland.
We thank God for creating us and for putting heaven within our reach. We thank Jesus for humiliating himself in the incarnation in order to raise us up beyond our natural selves and for having shed his blood on the cross to wash away the one impediment that could keep us from heaven – sin.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 51 “It pleased God, in his goodness and wisdom, to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will. His will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit, and thus become sharers in the divine nature.”1
CCC 52 God, who “dwells in unapproachable light”, wants to communicate his own divine life to the men he freely created, in order to adopt them as his sons in his only-begotten Son.2 By revealing himself God wishes to make them capable of responding to him, and of knowing him and of loving him far beyond their own natural capacity.
CCC 257 “O blessed light, O Trinity and first Unity!”3 God is eternal blessedness, undying life, unfading light. God is love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the “plan of his loving kindness”, conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world, in his beloved Son: “He destined us in love to be his sons” and “to be conformed to the image of his Son”, through “the spirit of sonship”.4 This plan is a “grace [which] was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began”, stemming immediately from Trinitarian love.5 It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued in the mission of the Church.6
CCC 294 The glory of God consists in the realization of this manifestation and communication of his goodness, for which the world was created. God made us “to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace”,7 for “the glory of God is man fully alive; moreover man’s life is the vision of God: if God’s revelation through creation has already obtained life for all the beings that dwell on earth, how much more will the Word’s manifestation of the Father obtain life for those who see God.”8 The ultimate purpose of creation is that God “who is the creator of all things may at last become ”all in all“, thus simultaneously assuring his own glory and our beatitude.”9
CCC 492 The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: she is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son”.10 The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”.11
CCC 517 Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of his cross,12 but this mystery is at work throughout Christ’s entire life:
– already in his Incarnation through which by becoming poor he enriches us with his poverty;13
– in his hidden life which by his submission atones for our disobedience;14
– in his word which purifies its hearers;15
– in his healings and exorcisms by which “he took our infirmities and bore our diseases”;16
– and in his Resurrection by which he justifies us.17
CCC 668 “Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”18 Christ’s Ascension into heaven signifies his participation, in his humanity, in God’s power and authority. Jesus Christ is Lord: he possesses all power in heaven and on earth. He is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion”, for the Father “has put all things under his feet.”19 Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of history. In him human history and indeed all creation are “set forth” and transcendently fulfilled.20
CCC 693 Besides the proper name of “Holy Spirit,” which is most frequently used in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, we also find in St. Paul the titles: the Spirit of the promise,21 the Spirit of adoption,22 the Spirit of Christ,23 the Spirit of the Lord,24 and the Spirit of God25 – and, in St. Peter, the Spirit of glory.26
CCC 698 The seal is a symbol close to that of anointing. “The Father has set his seal” on Christ and also seals us in him.27 Because this seal indicates the indelible effect of the anointing with the Holy Spirit in the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, the image of the seal (sphragis) has been used in some theological traditions to express the indelible “character” imprinted by these three unrepeatable sacraments.
CCC 706 Against all human hope, God promises descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the power of the Holy Spirit.28 In Abraham’s progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This progeny will be Christ himself,29 in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”30 God commits himself by his own solemn oath to giving his beloved Son and “the promised Holy Spirit. .. [who is] the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.”31
CCC 772 It is in the Church that Christ fulfills and reveals his own mystery as the purpose of God’s plan: “to unite all things in him.”32 St. Paul calls the nuptial union of Christ and the Church “a great mystery.” Because she is united to Christ as to her bridegroom, she becomes a mystery in her turn.33 Contemplating this mystery in her, Paul exclaims: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”34
CCC 796 The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of one Body, also implies the distinction of the two within a personal relationship. This aspect is often expressed by the image of bridegroom and bride. The theme of Christ as Bridegroom of the Church was prepared for by the prophets and announced by John the Baptist.35 The Lord referred to himself as the “bridegroom.”36 The Apostle speaks of the whole Church and of each of the faithful, members of his Body, as a bride “betrothed” to Christ the Lord so as to become but one spirit with him.37 The Church is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb.38 “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her.”39 He has joined her with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body:40
This is the whole Christ, head and body, one formed from many. .. whether the head or members speak, it is Christ who speaks. He speaks in his role as the head (ex persona capitis) and in his role as body (ex persona corporis). What does this mean? “The two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the Church.”41 And the Lord himself says in the Gospel: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”42 They are, in fact, two different persons, yet they are one in the conjugal union,. .. as head, he calls himself the bridegroom, as body, he calls himself “bride.”43
CCC 865 The Church is ultimately one, holy, catholic, and apostolic in her deepest and ultimate identity, because it is in her that “the Kingdom of heaven,” the “Reign of God,”44 already exists and will be fulfilled at the end of time. The kingdom has come in the person of Christ and grows mysteriously in the hearts of those incorporated into him, until its full eschatological manifestation. Then all those he has redeemed and made “holy and blameless before him in love,”45 will be gathered together as the one People of God, the “Bride of the Lamb,”46 “the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.”47 For “the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”48
CCC 1042 At the end of time, the Kingdom of God will come in its fullness. After the universal judgment, the righteous will reign for ever with Christ, glorified in body and soul. The universe itself will be renewed:
The Church. .. will receive her perfection only in the glory of heaven, when will come the time of the renewal of all things. At that time, together with the human race, the universe itself, which is so closely related to man and which attains its destiny through him, will be perfectly re-established in Christ.49
CCC 1043 Sacred Scripture calls this mysterious renewal, which will transform humanity and the world, “new heavens and a new earth.”50 It will be the definitive realization of God’s plan to bring under a single head “all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth.”51
CCC 1066 In the Symbol of the faith the Church confesses the mystery of the Holy Trinity and of the plan of God’s “good pleasure” for all creation: the Father accomplishes the “mystery of his will” by giving his beloved Son and his Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world and for the glory of his name.52
Such is the mystery of Christ, revealed and fulfilled in history according to the wisely ordered plan that St. Paul calls the “plan of the mystery”53 and the patristic tradition will call the “economy of the Word incarnate” or the “economy of salvation.”
CCC 1077 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us before him in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”54
CCC 1083 The dual dimension of the Christian liturgy as a response of faith and love to the spiritual blessings the Father bestows on us is thus evident. On the one hand, the Church, united with her Lord and “in the Holy Spirit,”55 blesses the Father “for his inexpressible gift”56 in her adoration, praise, and thanksgiving. On the other hand, until the consummation of God’s plan, the Church never ceases to present to the Father the offering of his own gifts and to beg him to send the Holy Spirit upon that offering, upon herself, upon the faithful, and upon the whole world, so that through communion in the death and resurrection of Christ the Priest, and by the power of the Spirit, these divine blessings will bring forth the fruits of life “to the praise of his glorious grace.”57
CCC 1107 The Holy Spirit’s transforming power in the liturgy hastens the coming of the kingdom and the consummation of the mystery of salvation. While we wait in hope he causes us really to anticipate the fullness of communion with the Holy Trinity. Sent by the Father who hears the epiclesis of the Church, the Spirit gives life to those who accept him and is, even now, the “guarantee” of their inheritance.58
CCC 1274 The Holy Spirit has marked us with the seal of the Lord (“Dominicus character”) “for the day of redemption.”59 “Baptism indeed is the seal of eternal life.”60 The faithful Christian who has “kept the seal” until the end, remaining faithful to the demands of his Baptism, will be able to depart this life “marked with the sign of faith,”61 with his baptismal faith, in expectation of the blessed vision of God – the consummation of faith – and in the hope of resurrection.
CCC 1296 Christ himself declared that he was marked with his Father’s seal.62 Christians are also marked with a seal: “It is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has commissioned us; he has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”63 This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial.64
CCC 1426 Conversion to Christ, the new birth of Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of Christ received as food have made us “holy and without blemish,” just as the Church herself, the Bride of Christ, is “holy and without blemish.”65 Nevertheless the new life received in Christian initiation has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life.66 This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us.67
CCC 1671 Among sacramentals blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places) come first. Every blessing praises God and prays for his gifts. In Christ, Christians are blessed by God the Father “with every spiritual blessing.”68 This is why the Church imparts blessings by invoking the name of Jesus, usually while making the holy sign of the cross of Christ.
CCC 2603 The evangelists have preserved two more explicit prayers offered by Christ during his public ministry. Each begins with thanksgiving. In the first, Jesus confesses the Father, acknowledges, and blesses him because he has hidden the mysteries of the Kingdom from those who think themselves learned and has revealed them to infants, the poor of the Beatitudes.69 His exclamation, “Yes, Father!” expresses the depth of his heart, his adherence to the Father’s “good pleasure,” echoing his mother’s Fiat at the time of his conception and prefiguring what he will say to the Father in his agony. The whole prayer of Jesus is contained in this loving adherence of his human heart to the mystery of the will of the Father.70
CCC 2627 Two fundamental forms express this movement: our prayer ascends in the Holy Spirit through Christ to the Father – we bless him for having blessed us;71 it implores the grace of the Holy Spirit that descends through Christ from the Father – he blesses us.72
CCC 2641 “[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.”73 Like the inspired writers of the New Testament, the first Christian communities read the Book of Psalms in a new way, singing in it the mystery of Christ. In the newness of the Spirit, they also composed hymns and canticles in the light of the unheard-of event that God accomplished in his Son: his Incarnation, his death which conquered death, his Resurrection, and Ascension to the right hand of the Father.74 Doxology, the praise of God, arises from this “marvelous work” of the whole economy of salvation.75
CCC 2748 In this Paschal and sacrificial prayer, everything is recapitulated in Christ:76 God and the world; the Word and the flesh; eternal life and time; the love that hands itself over and the sin that betrays it; the disciples present and those who will believe in him by their word; humiliation and glory. It is the prayer of unity.
CCC 2807 The term “to hallow” is to be understood here not primarily in its causative sense (only God hallows, makes holy), but above all in an evaluative sense: to recognize as holy, to treat in a holy way. And so, in adoration, this invocation is sometimes understood as praise and thanksgiving.77 But this petition is here taught to us by Jesus as an optative: a petition, a desire, and an expectation in which God and man are involved. Beginning with this first petition to our Father, we are immersed in the innermost mystery of his Godhead and the drama of the salvation of our humanity. Asking the Father that his name be made holy draws us into his plan of loving kindness for the fullness of time, “according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ,” that we might “be holy and blameless before him in love.”78
CCC 2823 “He has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ. .. to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will.”79 We ask insistently for this loving plan to be fully realized on earth as it is already in heaven.
CCC 2839 With bold confidence, we began praying to our Father. In begging him that his name be hallowed, we were in fact asking him that we ourselves might be always made more holy. But though we are clothed with the baptismal garment, we do not cease to sin, to turn away from God. Now, in this new petition, we return to him like the prodigal son and, like the tax collector, recognize that we are sinners before him.80 Our petition begins with a “confession” of our wretchedness and his mercy. Our hope is firm because, in his Son, “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”81 We find the efficacious and undoubted sign of his forgiveness in the sacraments of his Church.82
CCC 2854 When we ask to be delivered from the Evil One, we pray as well to be freed from all evils, present, past, and future, of which he is the author or instigator. In this final petition, the Church brings before the Father all the distress of the world. Along with deliverance from the evils that overwhelm humanity, she implores the precious gift of peace and the grace of perseverance in expectation of Christ’s return By praying in this way, she anticipates in humility of faith the gathering together of everyone and everything in him who has “the keys of Death and Hades,” who “is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”83
Deliver us, Lord, we beseech you, from every evil and grant us peace in our day, so that aided by your mercy we might be ever free from sin and protected from all anxiety, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.84
1 DV 2; cf. Eph 1:9; 2:18; 2 Pt 1:4.
2 1 Tim 6:16, cf. Eph 1:4-5.
3 LH, Hymn for Evening Prayer.
4 Eph 1:4-5,9; Rom 8:15,29.
5 2 Tim 1:9-10.
6 Cf. AG 2-9.
7 Eph 1:5-6.
8 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4,20,7: PG 7/1,1037.
9 AG 2; cf. 1 Cor 15:28.
10 LG 53, 56.
11 Cf. Eph 1:3-4.
12 Cf. Eph 1:7; Col 1:13-14; 1 Pt 1:18-19.
13 Cf. 2 Cor 8:9.
14 Cf. Lk 2:51.
15 Cf. Jn 15:3.
16 Mt 8:17; cf. Is 53:4.
17 Cf. Rom 4:25.
18 Rom 14:9.
19 Eph 1:20-22.
20 Eph 1:10; cf. 4:10; 1 Cor 15:24, 27-28.
21 Cf. Gal 3:14; Eph 1:13.
22 Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6.
23 Rom 8:9.
24 2 Cor 3:17.
25 Rom 8:9, 14; 15:19; 1 Cor 6:11; 7:40.
26 1 Pet 4:14.
27 Jn 6:27; cf. 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:3.
28 Cf. Gen 18:1-15; Lk 1:26-38. 54-55; Jn 1:12-13; Rom 4:16-21.
29 Cf. Gen 12:3; Gal 3:16.
30 Cf. In 11:52.
31 Eph 1:13-14; cf. Gen 22:17-19; Lk 1:73; Jn 3:16; Rom 8:32; Gal 3:14.
32 Eph 1:10.
33 Eph 5:32; 3:9-11; 5:25-27.
34 Col 1:27.
35 Jn 3:29.
36 Mk 2:19.
37 Cf. Mt 22:1-14; 25:1-13; 1 Cor 6:15-17; 2 Cor 11:2.
38 Cf. Rev 22:17; Eph 1:4. 5:27.
39 Eph 5:25-26.
40 Cf. Eph 5:29.
41 Eph 5:31-32.
42 Mt 19:6.
43 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 74:4: PL 36, 948-949.
44 Rev 19:6.
45 Eph 1:4.
46 Rev 21:9.
47 Rev 21:10-11.
48 Rev 21:14.
49 LG 48; Cf. Acts 3:21; Eph 1:10; Col 1:20; 2 Pet 3:10-13.
50 2 Pet 3:13; Cf. Rev 21:1.
51 Eph 1:10.
52 Eph 1:9.
53 Eph 3:9; cf. 3:4.
54 Eph 1:3-6.
55 Lk 10:21.
56 2 Cor 9:15.
57 Eph 1:6.
58 Cf. Eph 1:14; 2 Cor 1:22.
59 St. Augustine, Ep. 98, 5: PL 33, 362; Eph 4:30; cf. 1:13-14; 2 Cor 1:21-22.
60 St. Irenaeus, Dem ap. 3: SCh 62, 32.
61 Roman Missal, EP I (Roman Canon) 97.
62 Cf. Jn 6:27.
63 2 Cor 1:21-22; cf. Eph 1:13; 4,30.
64 Cf. Rev 7:2-3; 9:4; Ezek 9:4-6.
65 Eph 1:4; 5:27.
66 Cf. Council of Trent (1546) DS 1515.
67 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1545; LG 40.
68 Eph 1:3.
69 Cf. Mt 11:25-27 and Lk 10:21-23.
70 Cf. Eph 1:9.
71 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; 2 Cor 1:3 7; 1 Pet 1:3-9.
72 Cf. 2 Cor 13:14; Rom 15:5-6,13; Eph 6:23-24.
73 Eph 5:19; Col 3:16.
74 Cf. Phil 2:6-11; Col 1:15-20; Eph 5:14; 1 Tim 3:16; 6:15-16; 2 Tim 2:11-13.
75 Cf. Eph 1:3-14; Rom 16:25-27; Eph 3:20-21; Jude 24-25.
76 Cf. Eph 1:10.
77 Cf. Ps 111:9; Lk 1:49.
78 Eph 1:9, 4.
79 Eph 1:9-11.
80 Cf. Lk 15:11-32, 18:13.
81 Col 1:14; Eph 1:7.
82 Cf. Mt 26:28; Jn 20:23.
83 Rev 1:8,18; cf. Rev 1:4; Eph 1:10.
84 Roman Missal, Embolism after the Lord’s Prayer, 126: Libera nos, quaesumus, Domine, ab omnibus malis, da propitius pacem in diebus nostris, ut, ope misericordiae tuae adiuti, et a peccato simus semper liberi, et ab omni perturbatione securi: expectantes beatam spem et adventum Salvatoris nostri Iesu Christi.
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey
but a walking stick–
no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals
but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
That Christ the Son of God could have spread his Gospel of peace and love, his message of eternal salvation, to the whole world without human help need not be proved. He could, for instance, have written the Gospel in the sky – over each country in its own language. He could have gone to every part of the earth, after his resurrection, and taught his doctrine to all peoples, confirming his words with extraordinary miracles. Yet he chose the weaker but the more human way of evangelizing men – he sent their own fellowman to bring them the message. This choice showed his divine love and understanding of weak human nature, much better and much more effectively than the use of any of the supernatural means which he could have employed.
God, and Christ is God, gave man the gift that we call freewill. Man is able to choose between alternatives. God wants man to choose heaven as his eternal home, but he wants him to choose it without compulsion or coercion. He will have volunteers in heaven not conscripts. The man who chooses heaven must choose the means for going there. If you choose a holiday resort for your summer vacation, you must buy travel tickets, book a hotel and save up the expenses necessary for the holiday. By appointing mortal men to bring the news of salvation, the news of heaven, and the means of getting there to all of us, Christ has given us the chance of exercising our freewill and therefore of meriting heaven. Refusal to accept would hardly be possible if Christ informed us miraculously or taught us in person. If some extraordinary individual could persist in refusing, his refusal would be utterly inexcusable.
Now, Christ has earned heaven for all men and not for Christians only. He has given his Church, with all its aids and its guaranteed truth, to those who will be his followers. For them the road of the Gospel is an absolutely assured way by which they will reach heaven, if they are faithful to the rules. But there are, and there have always been, millions and millions of men and women who through no fault of their own have not heard of the Church of Christ. There are other millions who have heard of Christ and his Church, but who, because of some personal kink of pride or because of their upbringing or surroundings, have not felt able to accept the Christian way of life. God is mindful of all these millions and wants them in heaven. If their present circumstances, their lack of knowledge of the Christian truths, or personal prejudice, brought on by circumstances beyond their control, prevent them from being convinced of the necessity of becoming Christians would God exclude them from heaven? Surely not. It was because he foresaw all those who could not freely accept his Gospel to the letter and who yet want to go to heaven, that he let other human beings, who could and would be doubted, preach and propagate his Gospel. Therefore, it would be inexcusable to refuse to listen to his own word if it were written by him in the sky or preached by himself personally. But men could be excused if they doubted his human agents, for some reasons which appeared to them as valid. In other words, the merciful Christ who humiliated himself and who submitted to the death of the cross in order to open heaven for all men, found ways and means of excusing those who would elect to trudge through the fields and over the hedges rather than travel on the royal highroad that he had laid down for them.
This is divine mercy in action. God wants every human being to be saved. There are no Jews or Gentiles in the Church; no pagans, Moslems, Jews or rationalists in heaven – the citizens of heaven are all children of God. While on earth they each served him according to their lights, under their own particular banners. “The Spirit breathes where it will.” God’s mercy and love can reach into the darkest corners and produce fruit from the most unlikely and apparently most neglected of orchards.
While we thank God from our hearts today for having been put on the road to heaven, let us remember in our prayers our fellowman, God’s other children, who are trudging along through the fields and hedges. May God continue to show his mercy and divine understanding toward them! May they meet us at the entrance to our Father’s home where we shall be happy forever together!
Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Ignatius Press.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 765 The Lord Jesus endowed his community with a structure that will remain until the Kingdom is fully achieved. Before all else there is the choice of the Twelve with Peter as their head.1 Representing the twelve tribes of Israel, they are the foundation stones of the new Jerusalem.2 The Twelve and the other disciples share in Christ’s mission and his power, but also in his lot.3 By all his actions, Christ prepares and builds his Church.
CCC 1506 Christ invites his disciples to follow him by taking up their cross in their turn. ..4 By following him they acquire a new outlook on illness and the sick. Jesus associates them with his own life of poverty and service. He makes them share in his ministry of compassion and healing: “So they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.”.5
CCC 1511 The Church believes and confesses that among the seven sacraments there is one especially intended to strengthen those who are being tried by illness, the Anointing of the Sick:
This sacred anointing of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord as a true and proper sacrament of the New Testament. It is alluded to indeed by Mark, but is recommended to the faithful and promulgated by James the apostle and brother of the Lord.6
CCC 1673 When the Church asks publicly and authoritatively in the name of Jesus Christ that a person or object be protected against the power of the Evil One and withdrawn from his dominion, it is called exorcism. Jesus performed exorcisms and from him the Church has received the power and office of exorcizing.7 In a simple form, exorcism is performed at the celebration of Baptism. The solemn exorcism, called “a major exorcism,” can be performed only by a priest and with the permission of the bishop. The priest must proceed with prudence, strictly observing the rules established by the Church. Exorcism is directed at the expulsion of demons or to the liberation from demonic possession through the spiritual authority which Jesus entrusted to his Church. Illness, especially psychological illness, is a very different matter; treating this is the concern of medical science. Therefore, before an exorcism is performed, it is important to ascertain that one is dealing with the presence of the Evil One, and not an illness.8
1 Cf. Mk 3:14-15.
2 Cf. Mt 19:28; Lk 22:30; Rev 21:12-14.
3 Cf. Mk 6:7; Lk 10:1-2; Mt 10:25; Jn 15:20.
4 Cf. Mt 10:38.
5 Mk 6:12-13.
6 Council Of Trent (1551): DS 1695; cf. Mk 6:13; Jas 5:14-15.
7 Cf. Mk 1:25-26; 3:15; 6:7, 13; 16:17.
8 Cf. CIC, can. 1172.
The “Nothingness” Asked of the Twelve
This “nothingness” that the disciples share with Jesus expresses at once the power and the impotence of the apostolic office. On their own, by the force of their own understanding, knowledge and will, they cannot do anything they are meant to do as Apostles. How could they possibly say “I forgive you your sins”? How could they conceivably say “This is my body” or impose their hands and pronounce the words “Receive the Holy Spirit”? Nothing that makes up the activity of the Apostles is the product of their own capabilities. But it is precisely in having “nothing” to call their own that their communion with Jesus consists, since Jesus is also entirely from the Father, has being only through him and in him and would not exist at all if he were not a continual coming forth from and self-return to the Father. Having “nothing” of their own draws the Apostles into communion of mission with Christ. This service, in which we are made the entire property of another, this giving of what does not come from us, is called sacrament in the language of the Church.
This is precisely what we mean when we call the ordination of priests a sacrament: ordination is not about the development of one’s own powers and gifts. It is not the appointment of a man as a functionary because he is especially good at it, or because it suits him, or simply because it strikes him as a good way to earn his bread; it is not a question of a job in which someone secures his own livelihood by his own abilities, perhaps in order to rise later to something better.
Sacrament means: I give what I myself cannot give; I do something that is not my work; I am on a mission and have become the bearer of that which another has committed to my charge… This very self-expropriation for the other; this leave-taking from oneself, this self-dispossession and selflessness that are essential to the priestly ministry can lead to authentic human maturity and fulfillment.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Prayer to Become More Like Jesus
God, our Father, You redeemed us and made us Your children in Christ. Through Him You have saved us from death and given us Your Divine life of grace. By becoming more like Jesus on earth, may I come to share His glory in Heaven. Give me the peace of Your kingdom, which this world does not give. By Your loving care protect the good You have given me. Open my eyes to the wonders of Your Love that I may serve You with a willing heart.
We ask this and all things through Christ our Lord, Amen.