Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Father Told the Son, the Son Told the Church, the Church Told Us, Who Will We Tell?

There was a very popular TV commercial in the 1970s for Faberge Organic Shampoo. In the commercial, for those of you who don’t remember it…..a woman on our TV screen loved her shampoo so much that she told two friends, and they told two friends and they told friends, and so on, and so on, and so on. The commercial was so popular that people are still quoting it today in web pages and blogs. If the commercial was successful in having two friends tell their two friends and they told their two friends and so on and so on at least once each year, Faberge would have sold 1,099,511,627,776 bottles of shampoo since 1970. Faberge no longer makes their organic shampoo but anyone in business will agree that the idea of telling friends about a product, or a restaurant, or a clothing store, or just about anything you think is good is the best form of advertising. Word of mouth is better than any commercial.

Today’s Gospel lesson believe it or not is about word of mouth advertising, but not for a product. It is about word-of-mouth advertising about the Good News that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became human like each one of us, was crucified, died and rose from the dead so that WE could live forever with Him. Christ says, “Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent me.” (John 17.7-8) And THEN they, the Apostles told their friends, and they told their friends, and so on and so on until today here we are in this Church.

Today the Church celebrates the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council which met in Nicaea in 325AD to thank them and give Glory to God for their courage and wisdom as the Holy Spirit guided them to seek out the Truth about Jesus Christ. Today is an important day in the Church because we remember that the Apostles and Early Church Fathers like Saint Ignatius who in 69AD became the first Bishop in Antioch handed down an unchanged and unbroken chain of Holy Tradition and Faith, before there was a New Testament by the way, from Bishop to Bishop, Christian to Christian, for nearly two thousand years. The Fathers who gathered in Nicaea in 325AD didn’t invent any new beliefs when they adopted the Creed.

In the Fourth Century the Fathers studied the ancient Church and, based upon the writings and prayers and Holy Traditions of the Early Church Fathers and Apostles, established what we have today as the New Testament, nearly three hundred years after the Resurrection of Christ. They were able to do this because the Church has always existed and has always followed the example of Christ.

What Christ heard from the Father He gave to the Church and what the Church heard from Christ the Church gave to us. And now it is our turn to know that all things which the Church has given us are from Christ; and we have received them; and we can know surely that the Church came from God and has been sent by God to us. How can we know this?

Christ’s own words should be a comfort to us. Christ says, “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me.” (John 17.11) “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak.” (John 16.13) And “what is Truth?” (John 18.38)

The truth is not relative my dear brothers and sisters in Christ. The Truth is Jesus Christ Himself and He has promised that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church. And just as Jesus passed on the teachings of the Father to the Church, the Church passes on the teachings of Christ to us. Now it is our turn to pass on the teachings of the Church, which ARE the teachings of Christ to each other, our children and our friends and neighbors. It is time for us to tell two friends and they will tell two friends and they will tell two friends and so on and so on.

The teaching of the Church is simple: the purpose of life is to be in communion with God. Jesus said, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; [He’s talking about us!] that they all may be one, as You Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17.20-23)

There has never been a better gift in the entire history of creation! God has created us human beings to be in communion with Him. The Church has been proclaiming this truth for two thousand years and now it is our turn…I’ve told you and God wants you to tell two friends and they will tell two friends and so on and so on and so on.

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