Our Church follows the Bible

5th Sunday of Easter
Beloved in Jesus Christ, some time back, a young man named Bruce spoke with me about Faith. He attends one of these Megachurches, and he insisted that THEY really follow the bible.

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Well, I pointed out that the bible – the New Testament – was written by Catholics, for Catholics, and is best understood by the Church. Its really our Book that they are using. So my question to him was, ‘Is he really following the bible?’
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Many of us are asked questions by Protestant friends, especially evangelicals or those in the Megachurches. So let us consider some of these questions today. Bruce said: ‘We follow the bible, therefore we don’t baptize children we wait until a person is old enough to make their own decision.’ Maybe you have heard this before. Well, is this really biblical?
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If we turn to Acts 16, what do we find there? We read that St. Paul met this woman Lydia, and when she came to believe it says, ‘she and her whole household were baptized. Her household – that’s everyone, including children. In that very same chapter of Acts, when Paul and Silas had explained the Faith to their jail guard, it says, when he believed, ‘he and his family were baptized immediately.’ So whole families were baptized. There is no waiting for kids to grow up to decide for themselves. But why would this be?
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We see this in Colossians 2:11 There it explains that Baptism replaces Circumcision. Circumcision was the way into the Old Covenant, Baptism is the way into the New Covenant. At what age were you Circumcised? When you were 8 days old. That’s a baby! Did they wait until you were 12 to decide whether you wanted to be in the Covenant? No. Same in the New Covenant. Church law[i] says: parents should have their child baptized within the first few weeks.
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Baptism is not ‘a decision to join a club, it is not a decision to join an organization of like-minded people. Baptism is adoption. We are adopted into God’s Family. When you adopt a baby, you don’t leave the baby outside on the lawn until it is old enough to decide whether to join your family, it would die! It needs the family in order to live. Well – we want eternal life for our children, so we baptize the child into God’s family. It’s what Lydia did, its what the jail-guard did, it’s what the first Christians did. So, it’s what we do.[ii] So that’s the first answer to Bruce. WE are actually following the bible.
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In these recent weeks at Mass, we have been reading from the Acts of the Apostles. There, is found the story of the early Church and its beginning and growth. In a beautiful synopsis of the life of the first Christians, in one sentence it says, in Acts 2:42 ‘They continued in the teaching of the Apostles, in the communion of the Breaking of the Bread, and in the prayers.’
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So – ‘The teaching of the Apostles.’- They followed the teaching of the Apostles; they did not make up their own religion. They did not invent, out of their own head, new ideas from the Bible, no. In humility, they RECEIVED the Faith; it was handed on. St. Paul says in 1 Cor chapter 11 and in chapter 15: ‘I hand on to you what I also have received.’ And when he was unsure of something, it says in Galatians 2:2 that he went to consult with the Apostles to make sure that what he was teaching was correct. The things taught in these Mega Churches and in the other Protestant churches were invented many centuries after Christ. Those ideas had not been handed down from the Apostles.
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‘They continued in the teaching of the apostles, and in the Breaking of the Bread.’ The ‘Breaking of the Bread ‘- we explained a few weeks ago that this expression means the Mass. We know from the writings of the first Christians, that Mass was the center of their faith-life.
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In John 6, Jesus is very clear: ‘he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life everlasting.’ And the Jews said, ‘how can he give us his flesh to eat? This is a hard saying. ‘And from that day, many no longer walked with him. The first Christians believed the Lord: Ignatius[iii] in the year 110AD said: the ‘Eucharist is the Flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ…’ The Catholic Church has always taught this, but just like people then, many today, walk away from Jesus’ teachings. Too hard. So I asked my friend Bruce. Have you also walked away from Jesus’ true teaching? Does your church teach these things? Do you have the Holy Mass? Is receiving the Body of the Lord Jesus the center of your life, as it was with the early Christians who risked their life to get to Mass? This is to follow the Holy Scriptures. At the Last Supper, Christ said to his Apostles, ‘Do this in memory of me.’ ‘Do this!’ The Apostles did it, St. Paul did it, the early Christians did it, we still do it, right here.
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Ok, Mark, chapter 10: There Our Lord says, he who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. Do you teach that in your church? That marriage is for life? Does your minister teach that? Jesus is very clear, it’s right there in the Bible.
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Today we read in the Acts of the Apostles that there were 7 Deacons chosen: Diakonos[iv] in the early Church. The Bible also speaks of Episkopos[v] – that is, bishops. And Presbyteros[vi] – that is priests. This 3-fold ministry which we call Holy Orders has been with the True Faith of Jesus since day one, still today. So we can ask: Does your church have Bishops, priests, and deacons? This is in the Bible, the early Church believed this. Clement,[vii] in the year 80, speaks of the role of Bishop, Priest, and Deacon in the Church.
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Ok, another subject: if we turn to Acts chapter 8 and chapt 19. There we see that even though people had been baptized, something more was needed. The Apostles asked, ‘You were only baptized? ‘yes’ So they laid hands on them and then they received a new out-pouring of the Holy Spirit. We call that Confirmation. Eastern Catholics call it Chrismation. We can ask Bruce: what does your Church call it? Your Megachurch doesn’t have it. You are not following the bible.
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In the Epistle of St. James, it says, ‘if someone is sick, call the presbyters – that is priests – and have them anoint the person with oil. Catholic priests anoint many sick persons with oil, I did just yesterday. So – how many sick people has the minister of your church gone to anoint with oil, as it specifically says to do in the bible. Your minister does not do this.
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We do not question our friend’s love for Jesus, or their good-will; in fact, we have many Catholics who have made a shipwreck of their own faith and are on the path to perdition. They are worse off. But we should ask our friends to take another look at the Holy Scriptures, and see if really, its not the Catholic Faith that’s found there.
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In the 5th chapter of St. John, Jesus says, ‘You search the scriptures because in them you think that you have life eternal… but you are not willing to come to me, that you may have life.’ We tell our friends: Songs, and Sermons, and Plays, and Music, at your Church, good – but Jesus wishes more for you: he wants a true encounter with you in the Holy Sacraments, in the bosom of Mother Church and the teachings of the Apostles. This is Christ’s plan for your salvation.
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Friends, we Catholics can learn a lesson here; St. Jerome says, ‘ignorance of scripture, is ignorance of Christ. The Church gives a Plenary Indulgence for reading the Bible ½ hour. This means the Church wants us to read the Holy Scriptures. And then we come to Mass, to Jesus himself, that we may have life.
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O Mary our Mother, pray for all your children on earth, and call them back to the harbor of truth and the unity of faith, so that soon there may be, but one flock and one Shepherd. Amen.
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[Entrusted to the prayers of Venerable Antonieta Meo]

 

[i] Canon 867

[ii] And Baptism is also not just some external ritual as many say, rather, it infuses into the person the life of God. In Titus 3, St. Paul tells us that baptism is the ‘bath of regeneration,’ it brings the Divine Life into us that was lost by Adam and Eve. And, as scripture says, baptism gives us the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5 – ‘not by reason of good works that we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us through the bath of regeneration and renewal by the holy Spirit.’ Children don’t have to do any good works or earn anything, to receive the free gift of the Holy Spirit in baptism. Also, in Acts 2, the people ask Peter what they are supposed to do. He says, ‘repent and be baptized everyone of you, and you will received the gift of the Holy Spirit.’

[iii] Faith of the Early Fathers, Jurgens.

[iv] 1 Tim 3:10; 1 Tim 3:13 (the 7 ordained in Acts 6 are also known to be Deacons)

[v] 1 Tim 3:1,2; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 2:25

[vi] 1 Tim 5:17; 1 Tim 5:19; Titus 1:5

[vii] Faith of the Early Fathers, Jurgens.

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