|“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 21:14; Eph 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).|
|From a homily on the first letter to the Corinthians
by St. John Chrysostom, [ 347 – 407 A.D. ]bishop
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.