Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday 22 October 2017

Dear Friends in Christ,

The Second Principle of Evangelical Catholicism states that “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is divine revelation, not human wisdom, and the Gospel is given to us in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition which together constitute a single divine deposit of faith transmitted authentically and authoritatively by the Bishops in full communion with the Bishop of Rome. We must surrender our private judgments in all matters of faith and morals to the sacred teaching authority of the Church’s Magisterium if we are to receive the whole Gospel.”

Suspicion of authority is one of the hallmarks of our time, and the rejection of all authority except for one’s own thoughts and feelings is usually considered an essential condition of intellectual maturity and personal autonomy. Moreover, when this skepticism is married to the cynicism that now suffuses our entire culture, then people despair of the very possibility of a truth we can know with certainty and by which we can shape our lives without irony. But into this chaos the Lord Jesus speaks a divine word of saving truth: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore 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. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28.18-20)

In the First Principle of Evangelical Catholicism, we saw that saying “Jesus Christ is Lord” changes our lives in every way, and this Second Principle shows one of the most fundamental ways in which Christians are different from all others. We do not live in radical doubt of the fundamental truths about the origin and purpose of human life because the God who made us from nothing has shown Himself to us and explained His plan for our lives. He began this revelation through Israel and her inspired writings, and He completed this revelation in the life, death, and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The Gospel of Jesus Christ a sure and certain guide that frees us from the skepticism and cynicism that lead so many people into the despair of nihilism. And we receive this Gospel with complete certainty of its truth only in the Catholic Church, in which the Bishops who stand in apostolic succession bear in its fullness the authority of the Savior to teach: “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Luke 10.16) Jesus gave His messianic authority to the Apostles, who were thus made authentic and authoritative teachers of the Gospel, and the Bishops who succeed the Apostles in every age do not teach from their own authority, learning, or wisdom. Rather, they teach only in the name of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, and this is why we can surrender our private judgments about all matters of faith and morals to the teaching of the Church without any loss of our legitimate autonomy and intellectual maturity: the Gospel transmitted in and by the Church is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.

Father Newman