The Feast of Pentecost is the
birthday of the Church. For some 2,000 years now the Church has withstood the
devastating ravages of time. It has seen empires rise, flourish and then fall.
It has withstood diabolical attempts to destroy it from without and corrupting
influences from within. Through it all the permanence and the stability of the
Church stand out like a beacon in the night of a sin-darkened world.
God wants all to be saved and come
to the knowledge of the truth. The Good News Jesus came to reveal was meant not
only for the people of his day, but for people of all time. So while Jesus was
personally proclaiming the Good News to his contemporaries, he was preparing a
means by which his mission would be continued after he had returned to his
He began by gathering together
twelve men whom he called apostles. He spent the night in prayer before he
called them to “Come follow me.” He taught them by word and example. As an
internship he sent them out two by two and gave them authority to proclaim the
Good News and cast out demons. He gave them specific instructions about what to
wear and what to do. When they returned they were glowing with success. Jesus
took them aside for debriefing and further instructions.
Before he returned to his Father, he
gave them their formal commission. “Go into the whole world; 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 commanded you. And behold
I am with you always until the end of the ages.” (Matt.28:19-20)
Then he told them to go to Jerusalem
and wait until they received the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth that would
remind them of all he had commanded and remain with them forever. Then just as
the human body of Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit at the
Annunciation, so too the Mystical Body of Jesus, the Church, was conceived by
the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. And just as the human Jesus lived
his entire life under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so too the Mystical
Body of Jesus lives its entire life under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that the Gospel of Christ crucified, so
incredible and paradoxical in itself, so contrary to human nature and preached
by such simple, unlettered men conquered the known world in a few centuries.
God could have chosen angels. But he
chose men; fickle, fallible, sinful human beings. AND IT IS THIS VERY
HUMANITY WHICH IS THE GREATEST PROOF OF ITS DIVINITY. If it were only human it would have been out of existence a long time ago.
After the Resurrection when the apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin for
teaching about the Resurrection, Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, said, “So now
I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this
endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it
comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find
yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39) That was some 2,000 years ago.
The Church today is still teaching the Resurrection.
If God had chosen angels would the
Church be perfect? I don’t think so. How many myriads of angels said, “I will
not serve” and were cast into the Hell prepared for them? And if the Church is
perfect, how did you get in? How did I get in? How did any human being get in?
If you are looking for a perfect Church and you find it, join it. And when you
do it will no longer be perfect. The next time the humanity of the Church rears
its ugly head let us not be shocked and scandalized. Instead of trying to twist
the facts to deny the truth, let us realize that there is something here
greater than all of us.
The Church is not
God. It is the People of God. The Church is not Jesus. It is the Mystical Body
of Jesus. The Church is human and divine. And the humanity of the Church is one
of the greatest proofs of its divinity.