Tuesday, September 6, 2016

One Holy Catholic and Apostolic

Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 10:16-21 (RSV)
The Lord said to his disciples, "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name! " And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. " In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will."
Have you ever truly considered the consequences of this statement by Christ? If we reject the Church, we reject God. I think many of us don’t fully appreciate the teachings of the Church, either because we don’t know them or because we have chosen to trust in our own understanding rather than the Church. What makes the Orthodox Church unique is her dedication to remaining loyal to the teachings of the Holy Apostles. As we state in the Nicene-Constantinoplitan Creed, we believe “in One Holy Catholic and APOSTOLIC Church.”

We are ONE – There is only ONE Church of Christ. The outwardly divisions of the Orthodox into so-called national Churches is for the ease of administration. We are ONE in doctrine.

We are HOLY – We are in the world, but not of the world. We are (or at least we should be) committed to the heavenly kingdom rather than any version of Earthly kingdom that we might fancy. We cannot serve God and Mammon; we will either hate one and love the other or be loyal to one and despise the other. (Matthew 6.24)

We are CATHOLIC – We are universally the Church while at the same time local. Each local Church under their canonical bishop is complete and wholly the Church while at the same time united to every other local Church. The Church of Constantinople is no less the Church than the Church of Russia or the Church of Romania, for example.

We are APOSTOLIC – We are loyal to the teachings and way of life as revealed to the Holy Apostles. We do not teach as truth that which the Holy Apostles did not teach as truth. We believe the truth has been “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1.3 NKJV) through the Holy Apostles.

The Church is the body of Christ working in the world for the salvation of the world. The way of life given by the Holy Apostles to the Church has only one purpose, to prepare us to live a new life in Christ. We will be with Him for all eternity. If we want being with Him to be heaven, then we will hear the Church as the voice of Christ and follow the Church to the Kingdom of Heaven.

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