Thursday, February 20, 2014

FMI 24th Annual Congress Presentation: Salvation History 3/3

Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church, and the New Covenant 
What does this all mean for us? Let’s summarise: 
Jesus Christ’s is first of all born in the city of Bethlehem; “Bethlehem” means “House of Bread”. Jesus Christ is born in the manger, where the animals in the stable eat. This is symbolic because Jesus Christ is offered as a living sacrifice, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29; and think back to the Passover Meal in Exodus). 

Jesus Christ is baptised by St. John the Baptist in the River Jordan. But why did he do this? The Church teaches us this on Christ’s baptism: 

“Our Lord voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of St. John, intended for sinners, in order to ‘fulfill all righteousness.’ Jesus' gesture is a manifestation of his self-emptying. The Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as his ‘beloved Son.’” - Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1224 

“In his Passover Christ opened to all men the fountain of Baptism. He had already spoken of his Passion, which he was about to suffer in Jerusalem, as a ‘Baptism’ with which he had to be baptized. The blood and water that flowed from the pierced side of the crucified Jesus are types of Baptism and the Eucharist, the sacraments of new life. From then on, it is possible ‘to be born of water and the Spirit’ in order to enter the Kingdom of God.” - Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 1225 

Speaking of the Eucharist: Christ tells His followers that he is “the bread of life that came down from Heaven” (John 6:51). Again we have Christ completing what was shown in the Old Testament. The accounts of bread “coming down from Heaven” are found in Numbers 11 and Exodus 16; this bread was given because the people of God complained to Moses that they were hungry and needed sustenance. The Lord blessed them with the miracle of “manna from Heaven” and it came in abundance, so much so that they had to put what was leftover in the Ark of the Covenant; the manna was placed in a golden pot. Sound familiar? When we go to Mass, where are hosts contained? In the Ciborium, a golden pot. 

In the same discourse, Christ says this about himself but not before the Jews quarrelled among themselves about Jesus giving them His flesh to eat: 

“’I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.’ The Jews quarrelled among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.’” - John 6:51-56 

One year later, Christ institutes the Sacrament of Holy Communion, the Eucharist, at the Last Supper; giving us bread which is His body, and wine which is His blood of the new covenant, to eat and to drink so that we may have life in us. And Christ, giving up Himself for us on the cross, pours out his blood for our salvation. So just as the Hebrew people at the first Passover were saved by the blood of the lamb, so too are we saved by the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. 

Every Sunday, we Catholics have the opportunity to partake in Christ’s body and His blood so that we may become walking tabernacles of Christ; Christ resides in us and we are commissioned to bring the Good News to others, just as the Disciples, 40 days after Christ’s resurrection at the Ascension, were commissioned by Christ to bring Christ to all nations: 

“Then Jesus approached and said to them, ‘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.’” - Matthew 28:18-20 

We begin our journeys at Baptism, we are led by grace, we partake in the sacraments - which unite us with Christ - so that we may continue to perfect ourselves and grow in holiness as God desires. 

Folks, we are blessed with the gift of the Catholic Church, which is the conduit which brings us first to Christ, and in our Christian living we grow in holiness, prepare ourselves for the journey on the way to paradise, unification with God in Heaven. Christ built the Church on St. Peter, the Rock. God gave authority to man to carry out His work on earth: 

“’And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’" - Matthew 16:18-19 

To conclude...
We have this: 

“The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus. Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the ‘blessed hope’ of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the ‘holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.’” - Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2016 

This journey to paradise, our salvation, all began with creation and it climaxes with living life daily, in every thought, word, and action, with Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. 

“Then he said to all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’” - Luke 9:23 

No one ever said the journey would be easy, but we place our confidence and hope in the Lord that we may inherit eternal life. We are all partakers in this salvation history. 


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