Sunday, June 30, 2013

Standing Orders and Spider-Man

I like being Catholic. It feels good to be part of an outfit that's rooted in eternity, marching through time toward a city that hasn't been built yet, and I've said that before. (April 1, 2012)

I'm a convert, a reluctant one. When I learned what the Catholic Church really is, my reaction was something like 'oh, crap, now I've got to become a Catholic.'

Not that I'm in his league, but I had about as much choice as Peter did, just after Jesus told folks that we had to gnaw His body to have eternal life. (John 5:53-68; and see footnote 19)

Forced to Decide

I've accepted the idea that God exists for as long as I can remember, and understood that Jesus is very important. By the time I was a young adult, folks slapping a 'Jesus' label on their own preferences and hatreds had encouraged a certain skepticism about religion.

Still, something that was part of the lives of almost everyone, in every culture, throughout recorded history, was probably important, so I kept studying. A keen interest in history, sparked by a professor during my first year in college, helped.

- - - and I'm getting off-topic.

I finally learned who currently held the authority Jesus gave Peter. (Matthew 16:18)

After that, I had options: of joining my Lord's outfit; ignoring what I'd learned; or deciding to walk away. The first option seemed most prudent.

Being Catholic

This post is a sort of followup to "God's Family," from two weeks ago. I'd run across a pastoral letter1 written by the archbishop of Washington, DC, where he talks about what being Catholic means. Using points the archbishop made as a starting point for posts seemed like a good idea: and still does.

Moving on.

Jesus in the World

The Church is the Body of Christ in the world. That's not my idea, the apostles said so. (Romans 12:4-5; Colossians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27)

We're not all alike. We're not supposed to be, any more than a body is made of just one organ.

Parthians, Medes, Americans - - -

We're certainly not a bunch of folks who share similar interests. We don't even have a common culture. Common beliefs, yes: but how we act on those beliefs depends on where we're born and what era we live in.

Once in a while we get an obviously miraculous assist:
"They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, "Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?

"Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

"Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome,

"both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God."
(Acts 2:7-11)
Most of the time, it's up to us to find ways of carrying out orders that haven't changed in two millennia.

"All Power in Heaven and Earth," and Spider-Man

Jesus left this standing order, just before leaving:
"11 Then Jesus approached and said to them, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

"Go, therefore, 12 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. 13 And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. '"
(Matthew 28:18-20)
Maybe it's easy to see what Jesus says about "all power in heaven and on earth," and miss the implications of "...making disciples of all nations ... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you...."

That's a huge job: and a crushing responsibility. No wonder Jesus assures us that "...I am with you always, until the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20)

Small wonder that Catholics get a reputation for feeling 'responsible.' It's like the first Spider-Man story said:
"With great power there must also come —
great responsibility!
"
(Stan Lee, in Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962) (the first Spider-Man story))
And that's another topic.

Related posts:

1 Cardinal Wuerl's letter:

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