Insurance, Guaranteed by God by Rev. Paul Scalia
Reprinted by permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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Matthew wrote to show that Christ
Messiah and fulfilled the Jewish prophecies.
Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Christ, the son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Imagine you were purchasing or building a home for your family. Would you buy from a realtor who could not guarantee the strength and security of the house’s foundation? Or would you build on unstable footing? Of course not.
You would want your family – especially your children – to be secure. You would ensure that the house has a firm footing before you moved in. You would insist on some guarantee from the realtor or the builder that the foundation is solid. Otherwise you would be subjecting yourself and your loved ones to uncertainty and insecurity. You would be unable to dwell secure.
This good natural instinct that we possess reflects a similar but deeper desire within the heart of God the Father. He desires a stable spiritual home for His children. Throughout Scripture we find this promise again and again – that God’s people will “dwell secure” (cf. Ps 1032:28; Prv 1:33; Jer 23:16; 33:16). And Our Lord’s words to St. peter fulfill this promise of God the Father: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the nether world shall not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18)
Notice first that Our Lord Himself establishes the Church. He has not commissioned someone else for this work. He has not sub-contracted or hired outside help. The Church does not come from the will of man, for man is insufficient to the task. In the person of Jesus Christ, God Himself establishes the Church as our secure dwelling. Therefore we can have confidence in the Church – even despite the failure of her members and ministers – because the founder of the Church is divine. He is the master builder whose work does not falter or fail.
Further, Our Lord bears no resemblance to that foolish man who builds his house on sand. He is rather, that wise man who establishes his house – the Church – on sold rock. (cf. Mt 7:24-27) He founded the Church on rock so as to withstand any tribulations or attacks. Theologically, Our Lord’s words indicate the indefectibility of the Church: “built on rock, she will continue to stand until the end of time,” (Vatican Council I) This truth belongs to the deposit of faith. But the witness of history confirms what we already know by faith. History has seen many attempts on the Church’s life and even proclamations of her death. Yet she lives. Although at times she has seemed to have suffered an incurable wound – though the assault of her enemies or the scandalous behavior of her own members – still the Church survives and continues her pilgrimage through history.
We are the beneficiaries of this divine founding and guarantee. We know that when children dwell secure they dwell happily. A secure home provides them an atmosphere in which they can grow in confidence. When children have a sense of security, then – and only then – they can play joyfully, extend themselves in generosity – and even take risks. Remove the security, however, and children will no longer play or grow. Rather, they will cower in uncertainty and shy away from challenges.
The children of God are no different. Without spiritual security we possess no joy, no generosity, no courage. So Our Heavenly Father has given us the Church as our secure spiritual dwelling here on Earth. We do not have to worry or be in doubt about the Church – about the faith we profess, the grace we receive or the way of life we aspire to live. God Himself has built our home, has guaranteed the foundation and has promised its survival. As such, we can dwell secure.
But we can do more than dwell secure. From within this solid home we can securely play before Our Heavenly Father, confidently proclaim His truth, generously give ourselves in His service – and even dare great things for Him.
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