Thursday, September 17, 2009

Today's Reading Reflection: Holy Orders / Apostolic Succession

Mass is celebrated every day at every hour all over the world. Somewhere on this Earth, while you are reading this blog post, there is a Catholic Mass going on. Every Catholic Mass, around the world, have the same readings from the Holy Scriptures. This way, if you were to attend Mass daily, you would make it through most of the Bible within the span of 2 years.

Today's readings can be found here.

The reading that I want to focus on is the New Testament Reading and the Gospel reading.

1 Tim 4:12-16
Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Here we see that Paul is encouraging Timothy to teach the faith, and not let anyone intimidate him or think down on him because of his age. From the text, we can imagine that Timothy is not an older man. Instead, it is likely that his youth may have been seen as a stumbling block for others to take him seriously. As you can see, not much has changed from one culture that existed 2000 years ago to now. We have all, at one point or another, have not been taken seriously due to our age, or how long we have been a Christian (wink).

As you can see in this passage, Paul encourages Timothy due to the special gift that Timothy has. What is the special gift? How did he receive it? Did he receive a vision of God that called him to the ministry? Even if he did, would that be enough? Using context clues, one can definitely see that this gift was not something that he earned. He did not go to school in order to receive this special gift. He received it...

...when the body of elders laid their hands on you [Timothy]

What is this talking about? This is talking about the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Timothy was an ordained priest. He received this ordination from the elders of the church - who were also ordained priests. If you watched the video from my last post, then you can see how this ordination process still exists in the Catholic Church today. What you may not realize, and what is not completely obvious is that the same gift that Timothy received in the Early Church is the same gift that those priests received in the video and resides in every Catholic religious person in the Catholic Church today.

It is a gift not of man, but from God Himself. Jesus Christ ordained 12 men, those 12 men ordained others, with the imposition of hands, and those other ordained others in an unbroken line of succession that exists in the Catholic Church today. Another name for this is Apostolic Succession.

This may seem like I am boasting - and I am partially. Wouldn't you be proud to be in the Church that still retains the gift of Jesus Christ through a properly ordained preisthood? But more than boasting, I am simply telling the truth of a historical fact. The lineage of every bishop, priest and deacon can trace back to Jesus Christ, Himself.

God bless...

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