Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Wednesday 21 April |
Saint of the Day: St. Anselm of Canterbury
home iconChurch
line break icon

Why Jesus created a Church, and not just a Bible

SAINT PETER'S SQUARE

Antoine Mekary | | ALETEIA | I.Media

Tom Hoopes - published on 05/23/19

This Sunday, we hear about the first Christians, see ourselves today, and envision what we will one day be.

This Sunday, the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C, Jesus teaches the apostles important lessons about how he will deal with mankind.

They are lessons with ramifications for both Christian history and our personal history.

Jesus tells them that that he is founding a Church, not giving them a Bible.

As Jesus says in the Gospel, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”

Part of what the Holy Spirit will do is inspire the Bible — but the First Reading shows what the Holy Spirit will mainly do.

Leaders from the Church in Jerusalem were telling the people, “Unless you are circumcised … you cannot be saved.” When people balked at this, “it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question.”

There follows an ecumenical council and a kind of encyclical letter that settles the matter, relents on the rule, and communicates a clear teaching. To this day the Church behaves in exactly this way — with missteps, corrections, and Church pronouncements — guided but not dominated by the Holy Spirit.


WOMAN,READING,PSALMS

Read more:
Did Bibles always look like Bibles?

The Church, we learn, is not a club for perfect people, but an oasis for imperfect people.

Jesus tells the apostles, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”

That Jesus gives us special peace is a very good thing. As Hilaire Belloc put it, proof that the the Church is divinely guided “might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.”

As is clear in the wrangling that took place in the Church in the first reading, the actual day-to-day life of the human beings in the Church is not peaceful at all. The peace comes not from how smoothly things run on the surface, but from a profound calm deep below the surface.


BISHOP BARRON

Read more:
Bishop Barron’s ‘Letter to a Suffering Church’ a worthwhile read

Jesus gives the apostles the astonishing, consoling news that the entire Trinity will “dwell” with us.

“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him,” Jesus says.

The dwelling place of God was the temple, with the Holy of Holies in its center, where God’s presence appeared. But Jesus, as he promised, tears down that concept and rebuilds it. Now, the Christian becomes the temple-dwelling place of God, and the holy of holies in our churches are the altar and the tabernacle — the places where Jesus is truly present in the Eucharistic form of bread so that he can become present in us.

The second reading, in which St. John describes the vision he had of heaven, shows what this will mean when rather than the Trinity dwelling with us, we will dwell with the Trinity.

“The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,” he says.

“I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb,” he says. Rather, it had “twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

Weak and squabbling human beings have, through their union with God, become the sturdy foundation stones of the New Jerusalem.


THRONE OF GOD

Read more:
This throne will endure forever according to the Bible

All of this turns the human way of doing things on its head.

We may want us each to be our own interpreter of the Bible; instead, we are each members of the Church that wrote and interprets the Bible.

We don’t have to be freelance Christians, figuring it out on our own; but we do each become a temple, where God dwells within us.

We don’t each seek our own glory, we seek to be the footpath in a place of light where “The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.”

When Pentecost comes, in two weeks, we will see just how bright that light can be.




Read more:
This Sunday, learn the Church’s astounding claims about the Bible

Tags:
Sunday Lessons
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
KIDS,WATERMELON,BEACH
Cerith Gardiner
New study shows that these 2 childhood habits make you a happier ...
2
EUCHARIST
Philip Kosloski
5 Fascinating facts about Jesus in the Eucharist
3
SPANISH FLU
Bret Thoman, OFS
What Padre Pio saw in the Spanish Flu of 1918
4
MASS
Philip Kosloski
5 Essential things used at Mass and their symbolism
5
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio’s favorite prayer of petition
6
PRINCE PHILIP
Cerith Gardiner
The lasting lesson from the late Prince Philip
7
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to the “Holy Mothe...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.