|Bill and I have been talking |
Obviously, He died, arose (as they witnessed), appeared to his followers for a while and then ascended into heaven, so how is He "with us until the end of time?" Those 12 guys gave the same power given to them by Jesus Christ (the power to forgive sins, a divine power, and the power to change the Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ) to other men beginning with Matthias in Acts Chapter 1 -- the apostolic succession.
In this manner, those same inheritors of this divine power (forgiveness and consecration) are able to change the bread and wine into the Real Presence of Jesus Christ on a daily basis until the end of the world. So Jesus Christ -- True God and True Man -- is able to keep His promise to be with us until the end of time as long as there is one validly ordained Catholic priest left on this earth.
Why are they so happy at the Ascension? Jesus is leaving.I used to wonder why the apostles were so happy at the Ascension, and so sad at the Resurrection. Well, it took them a while to understand what had occurred -- even though He had told them "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up," and to His earthly father Joseph and mother Mary, after being missing for three days, He said, "Did you not know I would be about my Father's business?"
The apostles had experienced the suffering of Jesus' horrific death, and even though three of them had seen Jesus gloriously transfigured just before He died, they still did not expect the Resurrection. This is important to note because the Pharisees expected the apostles to fake the Resurrection because they indeed had heard and understood what Jesus meant by "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." The temple was His own Body. The Pharisees placed a guard on Jesus' tomb. Why guard a dead man??
But the disciples were happy at the Ascension -- even though Christ would not be seen on earth again for at least 2,000 years. They knew -- in faith -- they would see Him again. And they did see Him again every day after that for the rest of their lives in the breaking of the bread. Think "Road to Emmaus:" the Holy Mass.
Now Jesus Christ was True God and True Man, for John -- one of the witnesses -- reminded us that he actually ate with Christ and drank with Him: "That which was from the beginning (the Word made flesh), which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life -- the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it, and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us -- that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete."
TV celebrity Archbishop Fulton Sheen used to say that he believed the gospels because apostles were willing to have their throats slit for the truth of it, and they were just ordinary Jewish fishermen and tax collectors. Time and again from the historical witnesses of Holy Scriptures we see that when people met the Person of Jesus Christ, they were changed.
|Boots of the Roman centurion|
Immediately, after the crucifixion, the Roman centurion -- seeing the earthquake and the sky darken, remarked, "Truly this WAS the Son of God." (Caps are all mine). Simon the Cyrene was "compelled" by the Roman soldiers to help Jesus carry the cross. Yet we read in Acts that his sons, Rufus and possibly Alexander too, are followers of Jesus after His death. And let me not forget the Samaritan woman at the well, later known by the Church as St. Photina, who was so profoundly affected by her encounter with Jesus, that she told her village, "“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” According to Greek tradition, she took to preaching the gospel, was imprisoned, and martyred for a Person, Jesus Christ, True God and True Man. Few -- if any -- would be willing to be martyred for an ordinary man, but there are millions of known Catholic martyrs, led to death for Jesus Christ -- a Divine Person. And may I add, unlike Muslim martyrs, they did not deliberately seek their own death.
Me too! I was changed profoundly by an encounter with JesusAnd so, is it so hard to believe that I, too, 2,000 years later could be changed by an encounter with Jesus Christ so profound that I spent the rest of my life pursuing Him, and hearing His Voice and reading His Mind in the Scriptures, and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, which He Himself founded? These Scriptures -- by the way -- are consistent between the Old and New Testament. Repeatedly, we see what was written by those "men" was under the inspiration of another Person, the Holy Spirit.
How do you think it's possible that some old bedouin wandering the desert (Abraham) got a promise thousands of years ago that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. And now today, we see no other ancient race cohesively walking around except the Jews. There are no Midianites, no Canaanites, no Babylonians walking around today. But the Jew, why you can meet him in the Dentist's Office!
And then there's Sodom and Gomorrah -- it now looks like they were actually buried under a ton of salt at the bottom of the Dead Sea. They are finding evidence of it southeast of the Dead Sea where the lake has recently dried up.
Why is the Dead Sea dead and the Red Sea red? The water flows in and out from the Red Sea. It only goes into the Dead Sea. So also is the life of the human being who wastes his sexuality where it cannot bear fruit (contraception, masturbation, homosexual acts). The water flows in. Nothing is given out.
And then there is Isaiah's prophesy that "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and
will call him Emmanuel (God is with us.)" So the events of Luke Chapter 1 make perfect sense as Mary is overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, and Jesus is not born of the urge of the flesh or by the will of man, but by the Holy Spirit and the fiat (YES) of a human woman, Mary.
Matthew makes a point of taking all the Old Testament prophesies and showing us how they apply to the life of the Messiah Jesus: "He shall be called a Nazarene." (Matt 2:23) That's almost equivalent to being called a radical judging by Nathanael's response: "Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote-- Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Nathanael said to him, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." John 1: 45-46)
Jesus gave His divine power to forgive sins to the apostles and their successors, but He gave Peter His authority. "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church." He also gave only Peter the keys. Today the bones of Peter are buried under the altar where only the Pope, the successor of Peter can say Mass. Jesus built his Church on Peter and his successors in the sense that Peter would guard the deposit of faith he received from Jesus Christ, but Christ was so literal that he even used the poor fisherman's bones as a sign of where His authority lay.
But when I encountered Jesus Christ, when my faith was first awakened, I didn't know any of this. No Scripture, nada, nothing. I was a Catholic child age four. My father died after a car accident, which I witnessed from the back seat of the car. Three days later they took me to my mother in the hospital and told me my father was dead. Mother and my Grandmother -- supporting each other -- took me down to the hospital chapel. It was a Catholic hospital. Mom pointed at the tabernacle and said, "There is Jesus. Pray for your father."
My First Prayer: AngerWell Bill, I was very angry and my first remembered prayer was the child's equivalent of "up yours." But somehow from that point on, I belonged to this Jesus, and I am so glad. So if His Word and His Church say homosexuality, masturbation and contracepted sex is not okay with Our Father's plan, I believe it.
Now as to your difficulty with faith, you are not four years old. But I think that you will find if you look at the circumstances of your own life that God has spoken to you as well. There is a message that will resonate with Scripture and the teachings of the Catholic Church in time as you read it with God the Holy Spirit. Look at the events of your life, and ask God what were you teaching me?
A number of children tried to approach Jesus, but the apostles thought "Oh no, don't bother
Jesus said no to that. "Let the little children come to Me."
The Key to FaithAnd I think that is the way to approach this whole question of faith. Approach Jesus like a little child. Don't be afraid to make Him prove the truth of the Scripture, the Church, His moral law. Tell Him you won't believe it until He does something in your life to help you understand. Stick with that, and then sit back and watch what happens.
Nothing happens accidentally. Everything is gifted providentially. The smallest experience occurs because God is speaking to us through the events of our lives just as He spoke to the Jews through the events of their lives recorded in the Old Testament. Use the same wondering and watching that they did, or the pondering of Mary. And reflect on what happens. Ask and Watch. That is the beginning of faith.
God bless you. Susan Fox