One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

June 28, 2006

For the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Thursday, 29 June A.D. 2006

As soon as Christ ascended into heaven, St. Peter told the Church to replace Judas.
In the original Greek language of the New Testament, St. Peter said, “Let someone else take his episkopèn,” meaning the role or office of “overseer,” epískopos, from which the English language gets the word “bishop”.
St. Peter led the Church to discern that St. Matthias was God’s choice as a replacement for Judas in apostolic service as a bishop.
Later, Christ, by his direct personal intervention from heaven, chose St. Paul to be an apostle.
The Church in the New Testament also names Saints Barnabas, Timothy and Titus as apostolic bishops.
The apostolic succession of bishops continues to our day in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches.
By celebrating the solemnity of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, we also celebrate everything that the apostolic bishops hand down to us from the Lord.
St. Peter mentions one of these traditions in the Acts of the Apostles.
One of the men who have accompanied us
during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
beginning from the baptism of John
until the day when he was taken up from us—
one of these men must become with us A WITNESS TO HIS RESURRECTION.”

The apostles have handed down to us their eyewitness testimony of Christ’s public service and his resurrection.
The tradition— the handing on— of the testimony of the first apostles eventually took the shape of the Gospels and the New Testament.
The Christian Bible is dependent on apostolic tradition— and not the other way round.
The second reality, the second tradition, that the apostolic succession of bishops preserves and serves to us is the sacraments, especially the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
St. Paul wrote of this in his first letter to the Christians in the city of Corinth.
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus,
on the night he was handed over,
took bread,
and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said,
“This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup,
after supper,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

The succession of bishops going back to the apostles gives us what the apostles themselves received from Christ.
For his part, Christ gives us what he himself receives from his Father.
In his Gospel, Christ tells us:
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me,
but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give to you.

You and I have come here to receive in the Word of God and the Eucharist of God what Christ wants to hand over to us from his Father.
We benefit from what the Lord himself gave his apostles, and what the apostles as bishops have handed on to us down through the centuries and across the oceans and continents.
Thank-you, St. Peter, and thank-you, St. Paul!

That God Be Glorified in All


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