Acts of the Apostles 13:14, 43-52
Paul and Barnabas carried on from Perga till they reached Antioch in Pisidia. Here they went to synagogue on the sabbath and took their seats.
When the meeting broke up, many Jews and devout converts joined Paul and Barnabas, and in their talks with them Paul and Barnabas urged them to remain faithful to the grace God had given them.
The next sabbath almost the whole town assembled to hear the word of God. When they saw the crowds, the Jews, prompted by jealousy, used blasphemies and contradicted everything Paul said. Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, “We had to proclaim the word of God to you first, but since you have rejected it, since you do not think yourselves worthy of eternal life, we must turn to the pagans. For this is what the Lord commanded us to do when he said:
I have made you a light for the nations,
so that my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.”
It made the pagans very happy to hear this and they thanked the Lord for his message; all who were destined for eternal life became believers. Thus the word of the Lord spread through the whole countryside.
But the Jews worked upon some of the devout women of the upper classes and the leading men of the city and persuaded them to turn against Paul and Barnabas and expel them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in defiance and went off to Iconium; but the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
Revelation 7:9, 14-17
I, John, saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. One of the elders said to me, “These are the people who have been through the great persecution, and because they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb, they now stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his sanctuary; and the One who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. They will never hunger or thirst again; neither the sun nor scorching wind will ever plague them, because the Lamb who is at the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
“The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice;
I know them and they follow me.
I give them eternal life;
and no one will ever steal them from me.
The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone,
and no one can steal from the Father.
The Father and I are one.”
There are some people who call themselves Christians yet they do not hesitate to hurl blasphemies against the Church. There are some Catholics who say terrible things like the Catholic Church has lost its way, or is in the control of the devil, etc. One group of people who tend to say such bad things about the Church is the same group that does not accept that the Church should do anything to foster good relationships with members of other religions. They believe that the Church has watered down many of its teachings and practices to accommodate other religions, and like what Paul and Barnabas experienced from the Jews, these people will use blasphemies and contradict everything that you say.
It is quite sad to think that after 2,000 years of preaching the Good News, the Church still faces people who are not open to the message of Jesus Christ, that all men and women are to be brought to Him through the Church. It is quite sad to think that there are people who think that they know better than the Church how to listen to the voice of Jesus. Yet what strikes me most about listening to these people is how little they mention the name of Jesus. Instead, usually another name, the name of another man, is heard much more frequently, and there is nothing divine about that name.
Jesus tells us that the sheep that belong to him listens to his voice and they follow him. No one can ever steal them from him. This is significant because Jesus and his Church are one. If it is true that the Church has lost its way, then it means that Jesus is a liar. What’s more, if the Church has lost its way and now teaches wrong doctrines, then what makes its other doctrines right and infallible? Nothing.
Jesus and his bride, the Church, are one. Jesus is also one with the Father. Hence the Father and the Church are one. The Father is greater than anyone, and no one can steal from the Father. Hence no one can steal from the Church. One of the constant beliefs of the Church is: Where the Bishop of Rome is, there is Peter; where Peter is, there is Christ; therefore, where the Bishop of Rome is, there is Christ.
In other words, so long as we follow the Pope, the successor of Peter and the Bishop of Rome, we are following Christ. We have Christ’s own promise that the gates of the underworld will never prevail against his Church. The Church cannot lose its way. That is God’s guarantee, for Jesus has promised to be with us always.
It is true that the Pope, as a man, can lose his way, for he is a man. But as the Bishop of Rome, as the leader of the Catholic Church which Christ established, the Pope cannot lose his way. This is why we must pray constantly for our Pope, our shepherd. Pray that as a man, he may not lose his way and may always be a source of guiding light, not only for the Catholics in the world, but for all who believe in Christ.
There will always be people ready to use blasphemies against the pope and the Church. There will always be people ready to contradict everything you say. Paul and Barnabas gave us a good example to follow - don’t get into an argument with these people. Just shake the dust off your feet and walk away. There are many more people out there waiting to hear the good news you bear.
Lord Jesus, we pray today for the Pope, our shepherd, that he may always have a strong and close relationship with you, so that he may draw strength, courage and wisdom from your most sacred heart. Watch over him, as well as all our shepherds - bishops and priests. Give them the grace to be a guiding light for all the people they encounter, and help them to continue to draw all people to you. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: A good pope.
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- Friday, June 29 - Keeping the faith
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