When I was growing up I was often “bossy” with my younger brother. I really do not remember much in the way of specific anecdotes, but I do remember when my mom would intervene. Her first words were often “who died and left you in charge?” I never gave it much thought other than to accept that I was not in charge of my brother.
Skipping ahead a half-century, my mom’s words ring a new truth for me. Perhaps not what she meant at that moment, but equally applicable.
God sent His son to live among us to teach us to love Him and one another. Jesus was our teacher, amplifying and expanding the lessons of the prophets. While at the time His followers did not fully “get it,” He knew His time with us was very limited.
So, what was Jesus longer term plan for us? Several things really:
- He instituted His Church.
- He gave us the sacraments and entrusted them to His Church. Through this gift we receive the graces of divine life.
- We received the Holy Spirit to guide us in his will, especially the leader of His Church.
- His word. At first, little was written, passed only by Sacred Tradition. Over time many testaments were recorded from which the Church, through its infallible authority, canonized a collection as the Holy Bible.
Central to Jesus plan for our earthly lives is His Church – the Universal Church – the Catholic Church. THAT is who Jesus “left in charge.” Jesus created 1 Church, not many denominations. He appointed officials (Apostles and their successor Bishops) and a leader (Peter and his successor popes). Christ created His Church not just for the decades following His death, but “until the end of the age.”
Scripture, as always, explains this better them me! Here is the narrative:
(Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.”
Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”
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.
If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
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.”
This saying is trustworthy: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. Therefore, a bishop must be irreproachable, married only once, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle, not contentious, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children under control with perfect dignity; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of the church of God? He should not be a recent convert, so that he may not become conceited and thus incur the devil’s punishment. He must also have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, the devil’s trap. Similarly, deacons must be dignified, not deceitful, not addicted to drink, not greedy for sordid gain.
And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.
I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.
Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.
The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name – he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.
God is one and Christ in one, and one is His Church, and the faith is one, and His people welded together by the glue of concord into a solid unity of body. Unity cannot be rent asunder, nor can the one body of the Church, through the division of its structure, be divided into separate pieces.St. Cyprian (c. 250AD)