Friday, June 29, 2018
Christ then said to Peter, “Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 16:18-19
My Roman Catholic brothers and sisters hold this as foundational to the formation of the Church, the work of Saint Peter; my Protestant brothers and sisters also hold these words as foundational to the formation of the Church, but they emphasize the faith that Peter possessed. But I focus more on the responsibility of the Church as Christ expressed in the ultimate words of this teaching. “…a nd whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
The Church will be held accountable for what it does in the name of the Lord. The Church will define for the people the ways of heaven, whether they be in harmony with the actual ways of heaven or whether they be in disharmony with the ways of heaven.
The Church can choose to portray God as the spirit of judgment, or the Church can choose to portray God as the spirit of mercy. For the people who place their trust in the Church they will most often believe heaven to be in the manner of the Church on this earth.
I tried to begin each message I preached with this prayer …”Lord, let my words be words of truth; let me never stray from Your Wishes and Ways.”
A few weeks ago, a devout lay member of the laity shared his experience of having dinner with a pastor in the area. He shared with a reluctant sadness … “He did not seem to have the heart of a pastor. My wife and I thought, ‘He seemed so cold and insensitive.” And as they shared their negative experience, I thought to myself … “What quality of soul do others experience when they experience me?”
The Church historically has been a world of words. We try to explain, we try to persuade, we try to defend, we try to justify … but now at this stage of life … it is the tone of words and the spirit of the speaker which tends to be long remembered.
And the Lord said to Peter and the other disciples … You will set the tone and spirit of people’s earthly experience of heavenly ways … you best be responsible for the heaven you create in the minds of the people.
Always in Christ’s Service,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz