If you are looking at a particular sermon and it is removed it is because it has been updated.

For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Saints Peter And Paul 2019

         SS. Peter & Paul                       (Acts 12:1-11; 2nd. Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18; Matthew 16:13-19)

My dear People of God, we are invited today to give thanks to God for the gift of the Faith with which we have been blessed; to thank Our Blessed Lord for establishing His Church on the abiding foundation Rock of His Good News proclaimed by Peter and Paul and the Apostolic College; and finally to express our gratitude for the personal witness given by both Peter and Paul in Rome.

In the infant Church there were certain people who claimed to have knowledge of some teachings of Jesus hidden from the general body of disciples, teachings which only those could learn who had been specially initiated by rituals of a secret nature.   For such people, the faith of the simple Christian was only the beginning; the first step indeed, but not, of itself, enough for a deeper understanding of and closer union with God. 

All those who fought the very idea of such secret doctrines did so stating that:

The authentic Christian teaching is for all Christians and is to be found by all in the Holy Scriptures;

The faith taught publicly by Mother Church is guaranteed by the fact that it is the traditional Church teaching originating with the Apostles and handed on through the unbroken line of their successors.  

In that way it was made clear that the fullness of the authentic teaching of Jesus is open and available to all in His Christian and Catholic Church.

You must remember that in the early centuries of the Church there were no printed books; what books there were had to be copied by hand and were very expensive to buy.  Moreover, there were few roads, and the best of them could only facilitate transport by horse and wheeled carriage; transport by sea was very slow due to ships having to wait for favourable winds and tides; and, of course, such modes of transport were open to attack by robbers or pirates.   All this meant that the church in each city or town generally preached what it had received at the beginning of its establishment from the wandering teachers who first came and proclaimed Christ to them and baptised them in His name.   Those itinerant teachers were accepted as disciples of Jesus; but those with the greatest authority were, of course, the twelve Apostles.   Churches founded personally by an Apostle, or those where an Apostle had been active, were specially respected;  above all, however, those whose Apostle had not only worked among them but was buried in their midst, perhaps in a tomb open to veneration, such churches were shown the greatest respect, and their tradition of faith was recognized as being most sure.  Examples of these could be found, for example, at Antioch in Syria, at Philippi, Ephesus, Corinth, Thessalonica.

Nevertheless, even among these “super” churches with “surer” faith because of the founding and/or originating apostolic presence and witness, even among these, there was one which stood head and shoulders above all others, and that was the Church at Rome, where both Peter -- the Rock on which Jesus had said He would build His Church -- and Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles P/personally chosen by the glorified Jesus, had both worked and, indeed, suffered martyrdom for their unflinching witness to the truth of Jesus.   If any Church could remain free from heresy, if any Church could preserve the teaching of Jesus in its purest integrity, it had to be the Church at Rome.  Moreover, all wanting to know the fulness of Jesus’ authentic teaching would find it proclaimed more fully and surely in the apostolic churches, and above all, again, in the Church of Rome, the treasurer and custodian of the unique legacies of both Peter and Paul.  That true faith in Jesus and His teaching was known as the Christian faith, and that faith was intended by Jesus to be proclaimed to all peoples and churches throughout the known world, beginning with Paul the ‘Doctor of the Nations’.

That is why the ‘Christian Faith’ also came to be called the ‘Catholic – which means ‘universal’ – Faith’, because all churches were called and aspired to teach the doctrine of the apostolic churches, above all the doctrine proclaimed by Peter and Paul – Christian and Catholic -- at Rome.  The Catholic Church, one and potentially universal, was present in churches to be found in cities, towns, and village communities, throughout the known world; proclaiming one Christian and Catholic faith received from Paul and his fellow apostolic Evangelists, sealed and confirmed by the witness and authority of Peter’s original proclamation of faith in Jesus, the  Son of the living God.

Let me just give you the words of some of the earliest fathers and writers in the universal Church concerning the church at Rome.  First of all, the words of St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons in France who was writing about the year 185 and whose memory we celebrated just a few days ago:

We do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre-eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolic tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.   (Adv. Haereses III, 3,2.)

There are so very many witnesses to the unique position of Rome in the early Church!  Were there disputes about the Faith?  Rome was asked to decide.  Was anyone being persecuted for upholding Catholic truth?  Such a person would go to Rome seeking sanctuary and support.  Were innovators seducing the faithful?  The example of Rome was invoked and her help sought, because she was known never to have been deceived by innovations detrimental to the traditions she had received from Peter and Paul.

Peter and Paul: Christian and Catholic!!  Mother Church was established by Jesus on the Rock of Peter’s proclamation of faith in Jesus the Son of God; and Paul was chosen and commissioned by the Risen Jesus to proclaim that ‘Rock-truth’ throughout the world and to all peoples!   Mother Church: Christian and Catholic for all peoples from the very beginning … none excluded and none excused!!

‘None excused’ … I say that because of a most modern misuse of Jesus’ truth in our world today.  For many former Catholics and Christians now rejoicing in a secular society and rejecting  those titles of glory and hope … claim to be in the business (so to speak) of creating a better and more fulfilling world experience for people generally, and they seek to do this by borrowing from the French Revolution ‘Liberty, Equality and Fraternity’ luminaries … proclaiming a likeness to what a modern biographer of Robespierre has termed  his ‘Fatal Purity’, uniquely able to separate and destroy even the closest of former friends and associates.   That ‘fatal purity’ of modern ‘doctrines of life’ and their effect on humanity and its social nature is being manifested again in our days.  Modern lapsed Catholics and Christians and others rejecting Christianity out of hand nevertheless borrow heavily from Jesus’ teaching and aims… brotherly love, man and woman’s mutual relationship, the nature and purpose of sexuality … … in all these essential aspects of Christian and human life they try to adopt and adapt to their own agenda Jesus’ teaching, and as a result we have ever-increasing abortions, suicides, and mercy-killings, all of which are examples arising from modern ideas about and practice of, LOVE!!  Our modern evangelists -- politicians and activists to the core -- strive to sound, appear, and show themselves as good and compassionate people, and their use of words well known from Jesus’ teaching helps them to sell the essential aspect of their doctrine that now no one is excluded from the ‘good things’ they offer, but the closeness of their teaching with that of Jesus is a sham because they themselves want exclusions to be available from the fulness of that teaching because they  are absolutely against any God, even so lovable a God-man as Jesus, having any authority over them in their own very personal and private lives.

Dear Catholics and Christians, in our present world of change and uncertainty, where the Faith is often denied and Tradition derided, we should be both grateful for, and proud of, the blessings we have received: the supreme blessing and gift being that of the one, true, Faith guaranteed by Peter and proclaimed by Paul; the inviolate Faith, Christian and Catholic, preserved and revealed in  the one Church of Christ through the power of the Spirit of Holiness and Truth bequeathed to her by her Lord and Saviour.  And for so great a blessing each and every one of us should, on this feast above all, give heartfelt thanks to God our loving Father and offer most sincere prayers for Mother Church that she might continue to further the fulfilment of the work Jesus originally committed into her charge.  The world may criticize and even persecute Mother Church, but we, her children, must remember that Jesus is always with her as He promised; and that, just as He committed His mother Mary to John the Apostle's care, so also, today, He commits Mother Church to our confident care and loving solicitude:

Jesus said to His disciples, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.  The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." (Matt 9: 18-20.,37-10:1)