EASTER III (B)
opened their minds to understand the scriptures. – Luke
the same scriptures are there for everyone to read, yet
it is painfully clear that different people see
different things in what they read. Even at this late
stage, Jesus found it necessary to give the disciples a
Bible lesson. After all they had seen & experienced,
they still didn’t get it. How like them we are!
expectations have a lot to do with it. We all have
certain expectations of people, of life, so that it can
be said that our expectations in a real sense define who
& what we are as human beings. When events do not
fulfill our expectations we experience either
disillusionment & disappointment or we are forced to
adjust our expectations, which can be difficult to say
the least. What happens when our expectations are
exceeded? When we get more than we bargained for? That
can mean what we call a “mind-blowing” experience.
This is what
the disciples were undergoing in today’s Gospel. It’s
hardly surprising that they were having a difficult time
getting their minds wrapped around the reality they were
being confronted with. Jesus had to “spoon feed” them,
as it were, with Scripture passages to help them along.
This is an important moment in the Church’s development.
It means that the risen Christ Himself was showing them
how to read scripture. He was providing them with a
criterion for the interpretation of scripture.
This is why
even the earliest leaders in the fledgling Christian
movement insisted on the idea that truth was intimately
connected with a faith “handed down from the apostles.”
Apostolic succession was not about some chain of grace
transmitted by the laying on of hands, but a criterion
for rightly appreciating who & what Christ was & is.
Those first apostles
had gotten it directly from the horse’s mouth, as it
were. Only what was compatible with their teaching could
be considered authentic & capable of salvation. It has
been the task of the magisterium from the beginning to
protect this “deposit of faith” from being diluted,
subtracted from, or added to so that it was rendered
worthless. A distorted version of the Gospel message is
worse than nothing because it leads people to think they
know something when they really do not.
important to understand here that by “magisterium” we
are not talking about some elite committee of
theologians, but the successors of the apostles we call
bishops. Certainly there have been individual bishops
over the centuries who have been in error, but we know
that they were because the vast majority of bishops over
time have made it clear that they were mistaken. It is a
part of our faith that Jesus keeps His promises, & one
of those promises was that He would send the Holy Spirit
to guide the Church into Truth.
The notion of papal
infallibility is not about protecting any individual
pope from error, but about the Church as a whole. When
speaking on matters of faith & morals, the Pope can
never speak for himself alone, but for the Church as a
whole, & there are some important restrictions on what
he can say. This makes it a far more modest idea that
the notion of the infallibility of every individual
believer so prominent in Protestant circles. The latter
notion can & does lead only to chaos & anarchy in church
reflections have brought us a long way from that upper
room where the risen Christ made His appearance to the
first disciples, but it gives us some perspective on the
many controversies that beset us today. It’s important
to remember that when the bishops speak out on matters
of faith & morals, they are not just voicing their own
opinions. By the grace of God, they are speaking for
Christ Himself. AMEN!