Dynasty, Not Democracy – Part II


Artist Unknown

 

WITH the ongoing scandals coming to surface in the Catholic Church, many—including even clergy—are calling for the Church to reform her laws, if not her foundational faith and morals that belong to the deposit of faith.

The problem is, in our modern world of referendums and elections, many do not realize that Christ established a dynasty, not a democracy.

 

THE FIXED TRUTH

The inspired Word of God tells us that truth is not an invention of Moses, Abraham, David, the Jewish Rabbis or any another human being:

Your word, LORD, stands forever; it is firm as the heavens. Through all generations your truth endures; fixed to stand firm like the earth. By your judgments they stand firm to this day… reliable are all your commandments. Long have I known from your testimonies that you have established them forever. (Psalm 119:89-91; 151-152)

Truth has been established forever. And when I speak of truth here, I mean not only the natural law, but the moral truth that flows from it and the commandments Christ taught. They are fixed. For authentic truth cannot be true today and false tomorrow, otherwise it was never true in the first place.

Hence, we see the great confusion today that John Paul II called “apocalyptic” in scope:

This struggle parallels the apocalyptic combat described in [Rev 11:19-12:1-6, 10 on the battle between” the woman clothed with the sun” and the “dragon”]. Death battles against Life: a “culture of death” seeks to impose itself on our desire to live, and live to the full… Vast sectors of society are confused about what is right and what is wrong, and are at the mercy of those with the power to “create” opinion and impose it on others. —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Cherry Creek State Park Homily,World Youth Day, Denver, Colorado, 1993

The confusion stems from a generation that has often come to believe that truth is relative to “one’s own ego and one’s own desires” [1]Cardinal Ratzinger, (POPE BENEDICT XVI), pre-conclave Homily, April 18th, 2005

 

THE FIXED RULE

The truth of who we are, created in God’s image… an image that was lost, then recovered and redeemed through Christ’s Sacrifice, then revealed as a way that leads to life… has been destined to set the nations free. It is a precious truth, paid for in Blood. Thus, God planned from the beginning that this life saving truth, and all it implies, would be preserved and transmitted through an everlasting and imperishable dynasty. A kingdom, not of this world, but in this world. One that is girded with truth—with divine laws—that would ensure peace and justice to those who lived by them.

I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: I will make your dynasty stand forever and establish your throne through all ages. (Psalm 89:4-5)

This everlasting rule would be established through a particular successor:

I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm. (2 Sam 7:12)

The successor was to be divine. God Himself.

Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. (Luke 1:31-33)

Jesus suffered and died. And although He rose from the dead, He ascended into Heaven. What then of this dynasty and kingdom that God promised David would have an earthly dimension: a “house” or “temple”?

The LORD also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever. (2 Sam 7:11, 16)

 

THE KINGDOM OF GOD… ON EARTH

“The Lord Jesus inaugurated his Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Reign of God, promised over the ages in the scriptures.” To fulfill the Father’s will, Christ ushered in the Kingdom of heaven on earth. The Church “is the Reign of Christ already present in mystery.”Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 763

It was He, not the Apostles, who established a Church—His mystical body on earth—born from His side upon the Cross, just as Eve was formed from the side of Adam. But Jesus only laid the foundation; the Kingdom is not fully established [2]“Though already present in his Church, Christ’s reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled “with power and great glory” by the King’s return to earth.Catechism of the Catholic Church, 671.

All power 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, until the end of the age. (Matt 28:18-20)

Thus, Jesus, as King, bestowed His authority (“all power in heaven and earth”) upon His twelve Apostles to carry on the mission of the Kingdom “by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Reign of God.” [3]cf. Mark 16:15-18

But Christ’s Kingdom is not an abstract entity, a merely spiritual brotherhood with no order or rule. In fact, Jesus fulfils the Old Testament promise of a dynasty by copying the structure of the Davidic kingdom. Even though David was King, another, Eliakim, was bestowed authority over the people as “master of the palace.” [4]Is 22:15

I will clothe him with your robe, gird him with your sash, confer on him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; what he opens, no one will shut, what he shuts, no one will open. I will fix him as a peg in a firm place, a seat of honor for his ancestral house; on him shall hang all the glory of his ancestral house… (Isaiah 22:21-24)

The “palace” of Christ is the Church, the “temple of the Holy Spirit,” the promised “house” that would be established forever:

Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Pet 2:4-5)

Now, read what Jesus says to Peter regarding this “house”:

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. (Matt 16:18-19)

Christ’s words here are deliberately drawn from Isaiah 22. Both Eliakim and Peter are given the Davidic keys to the kingdom; both are dressed in robe and sash; both have the power to loose; both are called “father”, as the name “Pope” comes from the Italian “papa”. Both are fixed like a peg, like a rock, in a seat of honor. Jesus was making Peter master of the Palace. And just as Eliakim was the successor to the former master, Shebna, so too, Peter would have successors as well. In fact, the Catholic Church traces all the names and reigns of the last 266 popes to the present pontiff! [5]cf. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12272b.htm The significance of this is not little. The Catholic Church alone has the “master of the palace” whom God appointed, and thus, the “keys of the kingdom.” Peter is not just a historical figure, but an office. And this office is not an empty symbol, but it is “rock“. That is, Peter is the visible sign of both Christ’s presence and the Church’s unity on earth. He holds an office that has “authority”, namely, to “feed My sheep“, as Christ commanded him three times. [6]John 21:15-17 That, and to strengthen his fellow Apostles, his fellow bishops.

I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers. (Luke 22:32)

Peter, then, is the “vicar” or “substitute” of Christ—not as King— but as chief servant and master of the house in the King’s absence.

The pope isn’t an absolute sovereign, whose thoughts and desires are law. On the contrary, the ministry of the pope is the guarantor of the obedience toward Christ and his word. —POPE BENEDICT XVI,  Homily of May 8, 2005; San Diego Union-Tribune

The Word of Christ, then, that truth firmly established like rock in the heavens, is the foundation upon which the Church is built and the mortar with which she builds:

…you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth. (1 Tim 3:15)

Thus, one who departs from the teachings of the Catholic Church departs from a divine organism, a living body that—despite the sins of her individual members—would prevent a soul from being shipwrecked upon the shoals of pride, subjectivism, heresy, and error.

Because she alone holds the keys of the kingdom, safeguarded in the Barque of Peter.

 

THE CHURCH IS A MONARCHY

The Church, then, functions as a monarchy, not a democracy. The Pope and his Curia [7]the various “institutional” structures that govern the Church in the Vatican do not sit around the Vatican inventing doctrine. They cannot, for it is not theirs to invent. Jesus commanded them to teach “all that I have commanded you.” Thus, St. Paul said of himself and the other Apostles:

Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God… According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 4:1; 1 Cor 3:10-11)

The faith and morals that have been passed on from Christ, through the Apostles and their successors to our present day, have been preserved in their entirety. Those who accuse the Catholic Church of breaking away from the true Church and inventing false teachings (purgatory, infallibility, Mary, etc.) are ignorant of Church history and the unfolding splendor of truth that is intact through a vast treasury of written and oral Tradition:

Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours. (2 Thess 2:15)

The “truth” is not some human definition that is subjected to polls, referendums, and votes, but a living entity preserved by God Himself:

But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. (John 16:13)

Thus, when we hear the Apostles and their successors speak the truth, we are listening in fact to the King:

Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me. (Luke 10:16)

Those who knowingly reject the Catholic Church, then, are rejecting the Father, for it is His Kingdom, His house, His Son’s body.

The implications are huge and eternal.

 

“BE READY FOR MARTYRDOM”

For the Church now lies upon the threshold of her own Passion. The time of sifting is upon her: the time to choose between Christ’s Kingdom or Satan’s. [8]Col 1:13 There will no longer be an in between: the royal lands of the lukewarm will either be occupied with the cold or the hot.

The Church… intends to continue to raise her voice in defense of mankind, even when policies of States and the majority of public opinion moves in the opposite direction. Truth, indeed, draws strength from itself and not from the amount of consent it arouses.  —POPE BENEDICT XVI, Vatican, March 20, 2006

Extending Christ’s kingdom of peace and truth today means being ready to suffer and to lose one’s life in martyrdom, said Pope Benedict, in a recent meeting with world religious leaders in Assisi, Italy.

“He is a king,” the Pope said, “who causes the chariots and charioteers of battle to disappear, who will shatter the bows of war; he is a king who will bring peace to fulfillment on the cross by joining heaven and earth, and by throwing a bridge of brotherhood between all peoples. The cross is the new bow of peace, the sign and instrument of reconciliation, of forgiveness, of understanding, a sign of the love that is stronger than all violence and oppression, stronger than death: Evil is conquered with good, with love.”

And to participate in extending this kingdom, the Holy Father continued, Christians have to resist the temptation “to become wolves in the midst of wolves.”

“It is not with power, with force or with violence that Christ’s kingdom of peace is extended, but with the gift of self, with love taken to the extreme, even toward our enemies,” he declared. “Jesus does not conquer the world with the strength of armies, but with the strength of the cross, which is victory’s true guarantee. Consequently, for the one who desires to be the Lord’s disciple — his messenger — this means being ready for suffering and martyrdom, being ready to lose one’s life
for him, so that good, love and peace may triumph in the world. This is the condition for being able to say, upon entering into any circumstance: ‘Peace be to this house!’
(Luke 10:5).”

“We must be willing to pay personally, to suffer in the first person misunderstanding, rejection, persecution… It is not the sword of the conqueror that builds peace,” the Pope affirmed, “but the sword of the sufferer, of he who knows how to give his very life.”Zenit News Agency, October 26th, 2011, from the Pope’s reflection to prepare for a Day of Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World

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1. Cardinal Ratzinger, (POPE BENEDICT XVI), pre-conclave Homily, April 18th, 2005
2. “Though already present in his Church, Christ’s reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled “with power and great glory” by the King’s return to earth.Catechism of the Catholic Church, 671
3. cf. Mark 16:15-18
4. Is 22:15
5. cf. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12272b.htm
6. John 21:15-17
7. the various “institutional” structures that govern the Church in the Vatican
8. Col 1:13
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