No. 13 Questioned and Challenged
Catholic values and teachings encounter opposition and even hostility from many quarters in our day. That’s nothing extraordinary. Restless elements tire of the old and clamour for new theories and philosophies. Others debase moral standards.
[The time is sure to come when people will not accept sound teaching, but their ears will be itching for anything new and they will collect themselves a whole series of teachers according to their own tastes; and then they will shut their ears to the truth and will turn to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3)]
Neo-atheists peddle their general thesis that there is no God. Adopting attitudes of intellectual and scientific superiority, the latter show contempt for religious belief and ridicule doctrine, and side-step metaphysical truth and invisible realities which transcend purely physical phenomena, by reducing reality to that which can be observed, calculated or computed. More of this should be forthcoming at the coming week-end’s ‘2010 Global Atheist Convention’ in Melbourne (12-14 March). They fail to recognise that theirs is only pseudo-rational opinion, unsupported by evidence, and based on myopic assumptions. In no way do they or can they disprove the existence of God, His presence in creation, or explain what or Who preceded the so-called Big Bang hypothesis and got it going and governed its aftermath. Nor can they deal with the proven miraculous.
* Speaking to the apostles Jesus said, ” ‘But you, who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ” ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 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.’ ” (Matthew 16:17-19. RSV)
* Jesus said to him a third time, ” ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt that he asked him a third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. Feed my lambs, feed my sheep’ ” (John 21:17).
* Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time’ (Matthew 28: 18 – 20. NJB)
1. The Church is divinely instituted. Instituted by Christ. It is of God.
2. The Church is where the infinite transcendent God become human out of love, and ordinary people, sinners like us, flawed and errant in one way or another, meet and embrace. And so, the Church has a mystical and supernatural dimension, and a very earthly one as well.
3. Christ Jesus is the keystone, the bond, the cement of love and mercy which joins the mystical to the human and the mundane, sanctifying them.
4. The Church is the home to which all are invited. In and through the Church everyone is called to holiness, wholeness and Godliness.
5. It is where those who seek the Lord God, best and most surely find him. For, in and through the Catholic Church we have access to the authentic word of God, the words of life. The Church gives us the sacraments, each precious and beautiful, the means by which we are united to Christ, blessed, healed, strengthened and uplifted.
6. Despite its earthly shortcomings the Church itself is God’s sacrament of love and mercy made visible.
7. Christ delegated his authority, to teach, to feed, to care, to minister, to bind and to loose, to Peter, the apostles and their successors (the pope and the bishops): the apostolic succession.
8. We are a pilgrim people, called to be more. Much more, for we are the Church.
9. Not only is the Church for those who are its initiated members but for the whole world. It is our sacred duty and privilege to communicate Christ to others, including those who stand outside the fold, not forgetting our brothers and sisters who are atheists and for whom Christ died on Calvary.
10. The Catholic Church is unique.
No room for despair
Not only will hell not prevail against the Church, but the powers of hell will not hold out against Christ Risen and His Church, or evil and despair withstand the power of prayer, grace and love. In Christ, we can confidently prophesy, “Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat!” (Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands).