WILL CHRIST’S CHURCH PLEASE STAND UP?

“Come, I will show you the woman who is the bride of the Lamb.” —Revelation 21:9
 
Do you belong to the Church that Jesus founded? If you do, you belong to the body of Christ (e.g. Eph 1:22-23) and the bride of Christ. If you belong to Christ’s Church, you belong to the Church which holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Mt 16:19) and is the pillar and bulwark of truth (1 Tm 3:15).
How do you know if you belong to Christ’s Church? Some people think that the Church with the best and holiest people must be Christ’s original Church. However, Christ’s Church has always been a mixture of wheat and weeds (Mt 13:24ff). The first apostles were far from holy. Others think Christ’s Church is the one whose pastor teaches the best. This means they find the services and sermons to be helpful, inspiring, and even orthodox. So does this mean that a church ceases to be the Church of Christ if the sermons change or our evaluation of them changes? Moreover, who is the judge of what is orthodox? Don’t we need the Church of Christ to discern what is orthodox rather than having people who claim to be orthodox trying to discern the authenticity of the Church?
We can know which church is the Church of Christ because the Church of Christ is founded on the apostles (Rv 21:14Eph 2:20). Our bishops are successors of the apostles because they have been ordained by successors of the apostles. Apostolicity is the objective sign of the authenticity of the Church as the Church of Christ. Thus, we celebrate the feasts of the apostles and today’s feast of St. Bartholomew, an apostle.
 
Prayer: Father, may I love the Church as Jesus does (Eph 5:25).
Promise: “You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” —Jn 1:49
Praise: St. Bartholomew was introduced to Jesus by his friend Philip, who also became an apostle (Jn 1:45ff).

The weakness of God is stronger than men

From a homily on the first letter to the Corinthians
by St. John Chrysostom, [ 347 – 407 A.D. ]bishop
In what way is it stronger? It made its way throughout the world and overcame all men; countless men sought to eradicate the very name of the Crucified, but that name flourished and grew ever mightier. Its enemies lost out and perished; the living who waged a war on a dead man proved helpless. Therefore, when a Greek tells me I am dead, he shows only that he is foolish indeed, for I, whom he thinks a fool, turn out to be wiser than those reputed wise. So too, in calling me weak, he but shows that he is weaker still. For the good deeds which tax-collectors and fishermen were able to accomplish by God’s grace, the philosophers, the rulers, the countless multitudes cannot even imagine.It was clear through unlearned men that the cross was persuasive, in fact, it persuaded the whole world. Their discourse was not of unimportant matters but of God and true religion, of the Gospel way of life and future judgement, yet it turned plain, uneducated men into philosophers. How the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and his weakness stronger than men!
  Paul had this in mind when he said: The weakness of God is stronger than men.That the preaching of these men was indeed divine is brought home to us in the same way. For how otherwise could twelve uneducated men, who lived on lakes and rivers and wastelands, get the idea for such an immense enterprise? How could men who perhaps had never been in a city or a public square think of setting out to do battle with the whole world? That they were fearful, timid men, the evangelist makes clear; he did not reject the fact or try to hide their weaknesses. Indeed he turned these into a proof of the truth. What did he say of them? That when Christ was arrested, the others fled, despite all the miracles they had seen, while he who was leader of the others denied him!
  How then account for the fact that these men, who in Christ’s lifetime did not stand up to the attacks by the Jews, set forth to do battle with the whole world once Christ was dead – if, as you claim, Christ did not rise and speak to them and rouse their courage? Did they perhaps say to themselves: “What is this? He could not save himself but he will protect us? He did not help himself when he was alive, but now that he is dead he will extend a helping hand to us? In his lifetime he brought no nation under his banner, but by uttering his name we will win over the whole world?” Would it not be wholly irrational even to think such thoughts, much less to act upon them?
  It is evident, then, that if they had not seen him risen and had proof of his power, they would not have risked so much.

THE PEACE OF THE LORD

The Lord “has made the world firm, not to be moved.” —Psalm 96:10

Satan tries to disturb the peace. He wants everything in an uproar. He specializes in chaos. However, “God is a God, not of confusion, but of peace” (1 Cor 14:33). He is “happy to see good order among” us and the firmness of our faith in Christ (Col 2:5). We should not let anything agitate or terrify us — even rumors about the end of the world (2 Thes 2:2). What if “the consummation of all is close at hand” (see 1 Pt 4:7)? We should still not be perturbed. Rather, we should remain calm so that we will be able to pray (1 Pt 4:7).
Our lives are founded on the rock of faith in Jesus and obedience to His Word (Mt 7:24). “The Lord is my life’s Refuge; of whom should I be afraid?” (Ps 27:1) “Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war be waged upon me, even then will I trust” (Ps 27:3). As Jesus slept in the midst of a storm (Mt 8:25), so can we. We have a peace beyond understanding (Phil 4:7). We are “able to lead undisturbed and tranquil lives in perfect piety and dignity” (1 Tm 2:2). When the devil tries to pressure, manipulate, and stampede us, we can say: “I have stilled and quieted my soul like a weaned child. Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me” (Ps 131:2). “The peace of the Lord be with you always.”

Prayer: Father, console our “hearts and strengthen them for every good work and word” (2 Thes 2:17).
Promise: “He shall rule the world with justice and the peoples with His constancy.” —Ps 96:13
Praise: St. Rose stilled her heart by being a daily communicant and by spending long hours in prayer. She found peace in her prayerful relationship with the Lord.