Liturgical Notes

One Saviour, One Church
One of the greatest illusions is the belief that we can save ourselves and make ourselves happy. It’s similar to the notions that “I can be anything I want to be!” Every illusion ends in disillusionment. We can neither save our self from selfishness and sin, nor make our self permanently happy. If I’m five feet tall and want to be seven I can’t do it, unless I walk on stilts and then my movement is severely limited. If I could save myself I certainly wouldn’t suffer let alone die. Why, as supposedly intelligent creatures, do we think and behave so unintelligently? Jesus is the only person in history who conquered death through His Resurrection. Therefore, He’s the only one who can save us from sin, suffering, and death. He alone shows us the only path to joy, peace, and a happiness that lasts forever. Peter, the head of the Apostles, “filled with the Holy Spirit”, reminds us that, “There is no salvation in anyone else, nor is there any name under Heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12) He was simply confirming what Jesus revealed when He proclaimed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” (Jn 14:6) Knowing that He was the only means of entry into Heaven, Jesus commissioned and commanded His Apostles just before His Ascension: “Full authority has been given to me both in Heaven and on earth; go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them ‘in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’ Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!” (Mt 28:18-20)
How does Jesus save us? Through His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. He prayed for unity in His Church’s leadership and membership. “I do not pray for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their word, that all may be one as You, Father, are in me, and I in You; I pray that they may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent me.” (Jn 17:20-21) Jesus saves us by making us His adopted brothers and sisters in His Church where He’s present to each member in the preaching of His Word, His healing, forgiving, and grace in the Sacraments, and His intimate nourishing of our soul by giving us the gift of Himself in the Holy Mass. There we’re privileged to “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called children of God. Yet so we are … we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 Jn 3:1-2)
If love is the essence of Christianity, the glue of togetherness, why are there divisions among those who call themselves Christian? How can we love God if we don’t love one another? We can’t. Jesus identified Himself as the “Good Shepherd …I know my sheep, and mine know me in the same way that the Father knows me and I know the Father. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must lead them too, and they shall hear my voice. There shall be one flock then, one shepherd.” (Jn 10:16) Jesus shows clearly that there can only be “one fold,” one universal Church, led by “one shepherd,” the Vicar of Christ, Peter and his successors. This is Jesus’ visible community to which those outside it are invited to join. Jesus’ Church, under the leadership of the Apostles successors, re-sounds His voice calling all people to be saved through entering and participating in His “one fold” as His “one flock” shepherded by Him until the end of time. Anybody who tries to build a fold and collect a flock outside of the Church founded by Jesus on Peter causes division. Division is always a sign of Satan’s activity generating confusion and dissension. As Christians we need to keep our eyes on Jesus and pray daily with the Psalmist: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” (Ps 118:1)
Division among Christians weakens the Church’s effectiveness as Jesus’ visible sign of His saving presence in the world. It’s an absurdity for Christians not to be united in one family. To heal division and restore unity Jesus empowered His Church to administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that her members may repent of their sins, be forgiven, and reconciled to God and to one another in order to witness His mission of supernatural unconditional love. The human love with which we naturally love must be nourished with God’s supernatural love if we’re to mirror Jesus’ love, truthfully, mercifully, and justly. God’s spirit of love – the Holy Spirit – decries division since He leads everyone into the loving union enjoyed by Jesus and His Father. There’s only on Saviour and only one Church. This is God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. (frsos)