Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Response to Fairwinds Baptist Church October 11, 2009 Sunday Morning Sermon, Part 2

[Welcome new readers.  Before you go, please don't forget to check out the links to thirteen other Fairwinds responses listed on the right side of this page.  May the Holy Spirit be with you all!]

One thing Pastor Carlo said at the end was that Fairwinds Baptist is a kind of hospital for the spiritually sick.

I was reminded of a similar expression by one of the most important bishops of the early church.  In writing about the Eucharist, St. Ignatius of Antioch (who learned the faith from St. John the apostle himself) wrote around 110 A.D. the following in his letter to the Ephesians:

Especially [will I do this ] if the Lord make known to me that you come together man by man in common through grace, individually, in one faith, and in Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God, so that you obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ.
This are a number of really striking truths packed into this one sentence.  First is the emphasis on unity being connected with obedience to the bishops and presbyters (of which "priest" is the English contraction).  St. Ignatius not only assumes a nominal difference between bishop and priest, but he also assumes that we all know that we should be obedient to their authority. 

Second is the connection between the unity through obedience with the "one bread," which is the Eucharist.

But most relevant to Pastors comment is St. Ignatius's reference to the "medicine of immortality," the Eucharist.  In case there was any question about what St. Ignatius believed about the Eucharist, I'll include this quote from his letter to the Smyrnaeans:
Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes.
If the Eucharist is the medicine of immortality as this disciple of St. John the apostle taught (and was soon to be martyred for), then what would St. Ignatius think of a church that does not believe in the Eucharist?  A hospital without medicine.

From a Catholic perspective, Fairwinds Baptist Church is indeed a hospital where people dying spiritually may turn to learn some important things about Jesus.  Unfortunately, they will also learn some things about Jesus that are not true.  But perhaps even more importantly, this hospital lacks the medicine of immortality that Jesus himself left to his Church in the upper room the night before he was to give his life for us on the cross: the Eucharist.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ.  Jesus is really, truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in the Eucharist.  You can visit Jesus today.  You can sit next to him.  He waits for you and he waits for me in all the tabernacles around the world.  And he desires to pour forth infinite graces into your lives, if only you would open up your mind and heart to his real presence in the Eucharist.

Mother Teresa once walked into a Cathedral that was under construction, and so the tabernacle door was open, the candle was out, and all the hosts (a consecrated host is Jesus Christ in the appearance of bread) had apparently been removed.  Thus, when Mother genuflected in front of the tabernacle, the bishop who was accompanying her said that Jesus was not there, and that she did not need to genuflect.  Her response was: "but he is."  The bishop had explained that Jesus had been removed because of the construction.  "But he is there."  The bishop told Mother that they would go look, and sure enough, a single host remained in the tabernacle.

May we all have as loving and sensitive awareness of Jesus's real presence in the Eucharist as Mother Teresa had.  This awareness starts with an act of faith whereby Christians accept the ancient teaching of Christianity regarding the Eucharist.  Oh come let us adore Him!

Jesus is really, truly present in the Eucharist!  He is the medicine of immortality.  Jesus in the Eucharist is the medicine that stocks our spiritual hospitals.  Without the medicine that HE provides, how much success do we think we can have on our own?

Check out this amazing video:

No comments: