Today is the Feast of the Apostles Saints Philip and James!
Today, especially, let us please pray for our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and ponder the faith and the witness of the Apostles.
Each of the apostles going to the ends of the earth in order to form churches wherever God sent them.
Each laying hands on successors who would take their place and teach the same faith that Christ had first taught them.
(There is historical evidence of this apostolic succession from the very beginnings of the Church … all the way back to Peter, James, Philip and all the rest.)
Each one holding fast to the command Jesus gave on the night before He died, when He gave them Himself at the Last Supper, saying:
“Take this, all of you, and eat it. This is my Body given up for you. This is the Cup of my Blood. All you must drink from it, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, to be poured out in behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in remembrance of Me. As often as you eat and drink it, you proclaim my death until I come again!”(Cf. Matthew 26: 26-28; Mk. 14: 22-24; Lk 22: 14-20; 1 Cor. 11: 23-29).
Consider how each Catholic Mass is the re-presentation of this Glorious Mystery —
in which God transforms Bread and Wine into His Very Self – through the grace He gave to His Apostles to speak and act in His Name!!!
O, there is nothing in the world that can compare to being able to take and eat God’s own Body and Blood that was given up for us!!!
This was the basis of Christian worship from the very first days of the Church:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2: 42
Jesus explained in detail how eating and drinking His Body and Blood was essential to living in Him and being raised to eternal life, saying:
“I myself am the living bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread he shall live forever; the bread I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” John 6: 51
“Let me solemnly assure you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you have no life in you. He who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood real drink. The man who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him….” John 6: 53-55
Instead of clarifying His teachings when many of His disciples broke away and would no longer remain in his company, He simply asked the Twelve, “Do you want to leave me too?
At this, Peter replied: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe; we are convinced you are God’s holy one!” John 6: 66-69
Consider how each apostle spent the rest of their lives living out this Truth!
Each sharing Jesus’ Body and Blood through the Mass
Each proclaiming Jesus’ death and resurrection
Each calling all to repentance and forgiving sins as they had been forgiven
Consider how each gave their lives for Jesus
Each even “rejoicing when they were found worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ” (Acts 5: 41)
and share in the Cross of their Lord
through persecution, mistreatment, imprisonment, abandonment, even death –
all for the sake of the One Who loved them unto death and whom they loved beyond all others-
for they knew to the very depth of their beings Jesus was God –
and He alone was worth living and worth dying for!
Why else would each one give up his life?
Each apostle suffered the torments of martyrdom (even St. John for they attempted to martyr him many times – God just kept miraculously preserving his life) in order to fulfill Christ’s final command before He ascended into Heaven:
“Go, make disciples of all the nations and proclaim the Good News. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. Know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!”(Cf. Matthew 28: 18-20; Mark 16: 15-20; Luke 24: 46-49; Acts 1: 8)
Can we fathom the torments the apostles endured?
Can we fathom their blood that was shed and all the blood shed throughout these past 2000 years from the the martyrs throughout history?
Can we fathom the sufferings they endured for us to still have our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church to this day?
Can we fathom the faith of the martyrs who sacrifice their lives to this day – as more Christians have died in the past century than all centuries before combined?
Can we fathom their presence that surrounds us within the communion of saints, for they are now in glory with Jesus and intercede with Him for our salvation?
No matter the trials and no matter the sin of her members,
Jesus is still the One Who makes us Holy.
In Him, we are united as One Body – thus we are One.
In Him, we are united in One Faith – founded in the churches and teaching of the Apostles – thus we are Apostolic!
In Him, His Apostles have gone forth unto the ends of the earth to share the Good News – and still do to this day – this makes us Catholic, (which means universal).
Can we ever fathom the depths of pain Jesus endured in giving Himself to us in the Eucharist – to physically to remain with us always – even to the end of the world – just as He promised?
O, how we should be filled with gratitude for the tremendous gifts we have been given in and through His Holy Church and for our opportunity to still receive and adore Jesus everyday!
O, how we should fight to preserve the Church’s Holy Teachings handed onto us by the blood and sweat of millions who have gone before us, beginning first with Jesus and His Apostles!
O, how He longed and pleaded for us to be One as He and the Father are One, may we hold onto this Unity of faith, praying:
“I pray for those who will believe in me through [the Apostles] word, that all may be one as You, Father, are in me, and I in you.” John 17: 20-21
O, may we stand fast in hope and faith in the Promise of Christ, for He built His Church on Peter, saying:
“You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
“I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16: 18-19
O, may we help preserve Our Holy Church through our prayers and sacrifices for Her Shepherds and through our obedience and faith to Her teachings.
O, all you Apostles and Saints, pray for us!
Help us to stand fast to the faith you lived and died for.
© Janet Moore. 2019. All Rights Reserved.