The Keys of the Kingdom

GesupietrochiaveFrom the beginning of his public life Jesus chose certain men, twelve in number, to be with him and to participate in his mission. He gives the Twelve a share in his authority and ‘sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal.”They remain associated for ever with Christ’s kingdom, for through them he directs the Church:

As my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve; Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Our Lord then declared to him: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” Christ, the “living Stone”, thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakeable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it.

Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” The “power of the keys” designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: “Feed my sheep.” The power to “bind and loose” connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgements, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church 551-553

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The Signs of God’s Kingdom

Deliver us Lord from all evil !

Deliver us Lord from all evil !

Jesus accompanies his words with many “mighty works and wonders and signs”, which manifest that the kingdom is present in him and attest that he was the promised Messiah.

The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him. To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what they ask. So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his Father’s works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God. But his miracles can also be occasions for “offence”; they are not intended to satisfy people’s curiosity or desire for magic Despite his evident miracles some people reject Jesus; he is even accused of acting by the power of demons.

By freeing some individuals from the earthly evils of hunger, injustice, illness and death, Jesus performed messianic signs. Nevertheless he did not come to abolish all evils here below, but to free men from the gravest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God’s sons and causes all forms of human bondage.

The coming of God’s kingdom means the defeat of Satan’s: “If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Jesus’ exorcisms free some individuals from the domination of demons. They anticipate Jesus’ great victory over “the ruler of this world”. The kingdom of God will be definitively established through Christ’s cross: “God reigned from the wood.”

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church 547-550

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St. Ambrose – Bk 5 – Chapter 19

We adore you O Most Holy Trinity!

We adore you O Most Holy Trinity!

The Saint having turned to God the Father, explains why he does not deride that the Son is inferior to the Father, then he declares it is not for him to measure the Son of God, since it was given to an angel— nay, perhaps even to Christ as man— to measure merely Jerusalem. Arius, he says, has shown himself to be an imitator of Satan. It is a rash thing to hold discussions on the divine Generation. Since so great a sign of human generation has been given by Isaiah, we ought not to make comparisons in divine things. Lastly he shows how carefully we ought to avoid the pride of Arius, by putting before us various examples of Scriptures.

227. To You now, Almighty Father, do I direct my words with tears. I indeed have readily called You inapproachable, incomprehensible, inestimable; but I dared not say Your Son was inferior to Yourself. For when I read that He is the Brightness of Your glory, and the Image of Your Person, Hebrews 1:3 I fear lest, in saying that the Image of Your Person is inferior, I should seem to say that Your Person is inferior, of which the Son is theImage; for the fullness of Your Godhead is wholly in the Son. I have often read, I freely believe, that You and Your Son and the Holy Spirit are boundless, unmeasurable, inestimable, ineffable. And therefore I cannotappraise You so as to weigh You.

228. But be it so, that I desired with a daring and rash spirit to measure You? From whence, I ask, shall I measure You? The prophet saw a line of flax with which the angel measured Jerusalem. An angel was measuring, not Arius. And he was measuring Jerusalem, not God. And perchance even an angel could not measure Jerusalem, for it was a man. Thus it is written: I raised my eyes and saw and beheld a man, and in his hand there was a line of flax. Ezekiel 40:3 He was a man, for a type of the body that was to be assumed was thus shown. He was a man, of whom it was said: There comes a man after me, Whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. John 1:27 Therefore Christ in a type measures Jerusalem. Arius measures God.

229. Even Satan transforms himself into an angel of light; 2 Corinthians 11:14 what wonder then if Arius imitates his Author in taking upon himself what is forbidden? Though his father the devil did it not in his own case, that man with intolerable blasphemy assumes to himself the knowledge of divine secrets and the mysteries of theheavenly Generation. For the devil confessed the true Son of God, Arius denies Him.

230. If, then, I cannot measure You, Almighty Father, can I without blasphemy discuss the secrets of YourGeneration? Can I say there is anything more or less between You and Your Son when He Himself Who was begotten of You, says: All things which the Father has are Mine. John 16:15 Who has made Me a judge and a divider of human affairs? This the Son says, Luke 12:14 and do we claim to make a division and to give judgmentbetween the Father and the Son? A right feeling of duty avoids arbiters even in the division of an inheritance. And shall we become arbiters, to divide between You and Your Son the glory of the uncreated Substance?

231. This generation, it says, is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. Luke 11:29 A sign of the Godhead then is not given, but only of the Incarnation. Thus when about to speak of the Incarnation the prophet says: Ask you a sign. And when the king had said: I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord, the answer was: Behold a Virgin shall conceive. Therefore we cannot see a sign of the Godhead, and do we seek a measure of it? Alas! Woe is me! We impiously dare to discuss Him, to Whom we cannot worthily pray!

232. Let the Arians see to what they do. I have unlawfully compared You, O Father, with Your works in saying that You are greater than all. If greater than Your Son, as Arius maintains, I have judged wickedly. Concerning You first will that judgment be. For no choice can be made except by comparison, nor can anyone be put before another without a decision being first given on Himself.

233. It is not lawful for us to swear by heaven, but it is lawful to judge about God. Yet You have given to Your Son alone judgment over all.

234. John feared to baptize the flesh of the Lord, John forbade Him, saying: I have need to be baptized by You, and You come to me? Matthew 3:4 And shall I bring Christ under my judgment?

235. Moses excuses himself from the Priesthood, Peter is for avoiding the obedience demanded in the Ministry; and does Arius examine even the deep things of God? But Arius is not the Holy Spirit. Nay, it was said even toArius and to all men: Seek not that which is too deep for you. Sirach 3:22

236. Moses is prevented from seeing the face of God; Exodus 33:23 Arius merited to see it in secret. Moses andAaron among His Priests. Moses who appeared with the Lord in glory, that Moses then saw only the back parts ofGod in appearance; Arius beholds God wholly face to face! But no one, it says, can see My face and live.

237. Paul also speaks of inferior beings: We know in part and we prophesy in part. 1 Corinthians 13:9 Arius says:I know God altogether and not in part. Thus Paul is inferior to Arius, and the vessel of election knows in part, but the vessel of perdition knows wholly. I know, he says, a man, whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell, God knows, how he was caught up into Paradise and heard unspeakable words. 2 Corinthians 13:3-4 Paul carried up to the third heaven, knew not himself; Arius rolling in filth, knows God. Paul says of himself: God knows; Arius says of God: I know.

238. But Arius was not caught up to heaven, although he followed him who with accursed boastfulness presumed on what was divine, saying: I will set my throne upon the clouds; I will be like the Most High. Isaiah 14:14 For as he said: I will be like the Most High, so too Arius wishes the Most High Son of God to seem like himself, Whom he does not worship in the eternal glory of His Godhead, but measures by the weakness of the flesh.

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The Proclamation of God’s Kingdom

procEveryone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word:

The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.

The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”; he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned. Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation. Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom. 

Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”. The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.

Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”. For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church 543-546

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St. Joseph the Worker

Originally posted on The Holy Ones:

St. Joseph, pray for us! St. Joseph, pray for us!

St Joseph is patron saint of the universal Church of Christ on earth, the dying, marriages, fatherhood, families. He is also an excellent example of humility and obedience to the calling of God in his life.

However, it is St Joseph’s patronage of workers that is one of his most illustrious titles, warranting a special feast day in his honour.

He was himself a humble carpenter who knew what it was to work hard, often for meagre pay, in order to earn a living to support his the Blessed Virgin Mary and the child Jesus. Though a hard worker, he knew poverty and when presenting gifts at Jesus’ presentation in the Temple, it was the gift of the poor that St Joseph presented to God, ‘a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons’ (Lk 2:24).

REFLECTION:

We should sanctify our daily work by praying before and after work like St. Joseph did. Silence is the guardian of…

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St. Ambrose – Bk 5 – Chapter 18

f&hsWishing to give a reason for the Lord’s answer to the apostles, he assigns the one received to Christ’s tenderness. Then when another reason is supplied by others he confesses that it is true; for the Lord spoke it by reason of His human feelings. Hence he gathers that the knowledge of the Father and the Son is equal, and that the Son is not inferior to the Father. After having set beside the text, in which He is said to be inferior, another whereby He is declared to be equal, he censures the rashness of the Arians in judging about the Son, and shows that whilst they wickedly make Him to be inferior, He is rightly called a Stone by Himself.

219. We have been taught therefore that the Son of God is not ignorant of the future. If they confess this, I too— that I may now answer why He declared that neither angels, nor the Son, but only the Father knows— call to mind His wonted love for His disciples also in this passage, and His grace, which by its very frequency ought to have been known to all. For the Lord, filled with deep love for His disciples, when they asked from Him what He thought unprofitable for them to know, prefers to seem ignorant of what He knows, rather than to refuse an answer. He loves rather to provide what is useful for us, than to show His own power.

220. There are, however, some not so faint-hearted as I. For I would rather fear the deep things of God, than be wise. There are some, however, relying on the words: And Jesus increased in age and in wisdom and in favour with God and man, Luke 2:52 who boldly say, that according to His Godhead indeed He could not be ignorant of the future, but that in His assumption of our human state He said that He as Son of Man was in ignorance before His crucifixion. For when He speaks of the Son, He does not speak as it were of another; for He Himself is our Lord the Son of God and the Son of a Virgin. But by a word which embraces both, He guides our mind, so that He as Son of Man according to His adoption of our ignorance and growth of knowledge, might be believedas yet not fully to have known all things. For it is not for us to know the future. Thus He seems to be ignorant in that state in which He makes progress. For how does He progress according to His Godhead, in Whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells?Colossians 2:9 Or what is there which the Son of God does not know, Who said: Why do you think evil in your hearts? Matthew 9:4How does He not know, of Whom Scripture says: But Jesus knew their thoughts? Luke 6:8

221. This is what others say, but I— to return to my former point, where I stated it was written of the Father: It may be they will reverence My Son,— I think indeed this was written in order that the Father, as He was speaking of men, might also seem to have spoken with human feelings. But still more am I inclined to think that the Son Who went about with men, and lived the life of man, and took upon Him our flesh, assumed also our feelings; so that after our ignorance He might say He knew not, though there was not anything He did not know. For though He seemed to be a man in the reality of His body, yet was He Life, and Light, and virtue came out of Him, Luke 6:19 to heal the wounds of the injured by the power of His Majesty.

222. You see then that this matter has been solved for you, since the saying of the Son is referred to the assumption of our state in its fullness, and it was thus written concerning the Father, in order that you might cease to cavil at the Son.

223. There was nothing then of which the Son of God was ignorant, for there was nothing of which the Father was ignorant. But if the Son was ignorant of nothing, as we now conclude, let them say in what respect they wish Him to seem to be inferior. If God has begotten a Son inferior to Himself, He has granted Him less. If He has granted Him less, He either wished to give less, or could only give less. But the Father is neither weak nor envious, seeing that there was neither will nor power before the Son. For wherein is He inferior, Who has all things even as the Father has them? He has received all things from the Father by right of His Generation, John 16:15 and has shown forth the Father wholly by the glory of His Majesty.

224. It is written, they say: For the Father is greater than I. John 14:28 It is also written: He thought it not robbery to be equal with God. Philippians 2:6 It is written again that the Jews wished to kill Him, because He said He was the Son of God, making Himself equal with God. John 5:18 It is written: I and My Father are one. John 10:30 They read one, they do not read many. Can He then be both inferior and equal in the same Nature? Nay, the one refers to His Godhead, the other to His flesh.

225. They say He is inferior: I ask who has measured it, who is of so overweening a heart, as to place the Father and the Son before his judgment seat to decide upon which is the greater? My heart is not haughty nor are my eyes raised unto vanity, says David. King David feared to raise his heart in pride in human affairs, but we raise ours even in opposition to the divine secrets. Who shall decide about the Son of God? Thrones, dominions, angels, powers? But archangels give attendance and serve Him,cherubim and seraphim minister to Him and praise Him. Who then decides about the Son of God, on reading that the Father Himself knows the Son, but will not judge Him. For no man knows the Son, but the Father. Matthew 11:27 Knows it says, notjudges. It is one thing to know, another to judge. The Father has knowledge in Himself. The Son has no power superior to Himself. And again: No man knows the Father, but the Son; and He Himself knows the Father, as the Father knows Him.

226. But you say that He said He was inferior, He said also He was a Stone. You say more and yet you impiously attack Him. I say less and with reverence add to His honour. You say He is inferior and confess Him to be above the angels. I say He is less than the angels, yet do not take from His honour; for I do not refute His Godhead, but I do proclaim His pity.

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St. Ambrose – Bk 5 – Chapter 17

final judgement

Christ acted for our advantage in being unwilling to reveal the day of judgment. This is made plain by other words of our Lord and by a not dissimilar passage from Paul’s writings. Other passages in which the same ignorance seems to be attributed to the Father are brought forward to meet those who are anxious to know why Christ answered His disciples, as though He did not know. From these Ambrose argues against them that if they admit ignorance and inability in the Father, they must admit that the same Substance exists in the Son as in the Father; unless they prefer to accuse the Son of falsehood; since it belongs neither to Him nor to the Father to deceive, but the unity of both is pointed out in the passage named.

208. But we ask for what reason He was unwilling to state the time. If we ask it, we shall not find it is owing to ignorance, but to wisdom. For it was not to our advantage to know; in order that we being ignorant of the actual moments of judgment to come, might ever be as it were on guard, and set on the watchtower of virtue, and so avoid the habits of sin; lest the day of the Lord should come upon us in the midst of our wickedness. For it is not to our advantage to know but rather to fear the future; for it is written: Be not high-minded but fear. Romans 11:20

209. For if He had distinctly stated the day, he would seem to have laid down a rule of life for that one age which was nearest to the judgment, and the just man in the earlier times would be more negligent, and the sinner more free from care. For the adulterer cannot cease from the desire of committing adultery unless he fears punishment day by day, nor can the robber forsake the hiding places in the woods where he dwells, unless he knows punishment is hanging over him day by day. For impurity generally spurs them on, but fear is irksome to the end.

210. Therefore I have said that it was not to our advantage to know; nay, it is to our advantage to be ignorant, that through ignorance we might fear, through watchfulness be corrected, as He Himself said: Be ready, for you know not at what hour the Son of Man comes. Matthew 24:44 For the soldier does not know how to watch in the camp unless he knows that war is at hand.

211. Wherefore at another time also the Lord Himself when asked by his Apostles (Yes, for they did not understand it as Arius did, but believed that the Son of God knew the future. For unless they had believed this, they would never have asked the question.)— the Lord, I say, when asked when He would restore the kingdom to Israel, did not say that He did not know, but says: It is not for you to know the times or years, which the Father has put in His own power. Acts 1:7 Mark what He said: It is not for you to know! Read again, It is not for you. For you, He said, not for Me, for now He spoke not according to His own perfection but as was profitable to the human body and our soul. For you therefore He said, not for Me.

212. Which example the Apostle also followed: But of the times and seasons, brethren, he says, you have no need that I write unto you. 1 Thessalonians 5:1 Thus not even the Apostle himself, the servant of Christ, said that he knew not the seasons, but that there was no need for the people to be taught; for they ought ever to be armed with spiritual armour, that the virtue of Christ may stand forth in each one. But when the Lord says: Of the times which the Father has put in His own power, Acts 1:7 He certainly cannot be without a share in His Father’s knowledge, in whose power He is by no means without a share. For power grows out of wisdom and virtue; and Christ is both of these.

213. But you ask, why did He not refuse His disciples as one who knew, but would not say; and, why did He state instead that neither the angels nor the Son knew? Mark 13:32 I too will ask you why God says in Genesis: I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry that has come unto Me. And if not, that I may know. Genesis 18:21 Why does Scripture also say of God: And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men built. Genesis 11:5 Why also does the prophet say in the Book of the Psalms: The Lord looked down upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and that did seek God? Just as though in one place, if God had not descended, and in the other, if He had not looked down, He would have been ignorant either of men’s work or of their merits.

214. But in the Gospel of Luke also you have the same, for the Father says: What shall I do? I will send My beloved Son; it may be that they will reverence Him. Luke 20:13 In Matthew and in Mark you have: But He sent His only Son, saying: they will reverence My Son; Matthew 21:37 In one book He says: It may be that they will reverence My Son; Mark 12:6 and is in doubt as though He does not know; for this is the language of one in doubt. But in the two other books He says: They will reverence My Son; that is, He declares that reverence will be shown.

215. But God can neither be in doubt, nor can He be deceived. For he only is in doubt, who is ignorant of the future; and he is deceived, who has predicted one thing, while another has happened. Yet what is plainer than the fact that Scripture states the Father to have said one thing of the Son, and that the same Scripture proves another think to have taken place? The Son was beaten, He was mocked, was crucified, and died. He suffered much worse things in the flesh than those servants who had been appointed before. Was the Father deceived, or was He ignorant of it, or was He unable to give help? But He that is true cannot make a mistake; for it is written: God is faithful Who does not lie. Titus 1:2 How was He ignorant, Who knows all? What could He not do, Who could do all?

216. Yet if either He was ignorant, or had not power (for you would sooner agree to say that the Father did not know than own that the Son knows), you see from this very fact that the Son is of one Substance with the Father; seeing that the Son like the Father (to speak in accordance with your foolish ideas) does not know all things, and cannot do all things. For I am not so eager or rash in giving praise to the Son as to dare to say that the Son can do more than the Father; for I make no distinction of power between the Father and the Son.

217. But perhaps you say that the Father did not say so, but that the Son erred about the Father. So now you convict the Son not only of weakness, but also of blasphemy and lying. However if you do not believe the Son with regard to the Father, neither may you believe Him with regard to that. For if He wished to deceive us in saying that the Father was in doubt as though He knew not what would take place, He wished also to deceive us about Himself in saying that He did not know the future. It would be far more endurable for Him to stretch the veil of ignorance in front of that which He does of His own accord, than that He should seem to be deluded by a result contrary to what He had foretold in the things He had declared of His Father.

218. But neither is the Father deceived, not does the Son deceive. It is the custom of the holy Scriptures to speak thus, as the examples I have already given, and many others testify, so that God feigns not to know what He does know. In this then a unity o fGodhead, and a unity of character is proved to exist in the Father and in the Son; seeing that, as God the Father hides what is known to Him, so also the Son, Who is the image of God in this respect, hides what is known to Him.

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