Easter is the day that Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ after being crucified by the Roman Soldiers of Pontius Pilate. The name Jesus is the Greek form of the late Hebrew and Aramaic Jeshua which means, “The Lord is Salvation.” The name Christ comes from the Greek Christos which is a translation from the Hebrew Mashiah, “Anointed one.” In the Gospel according to Matthew, he uses the full name of “Jesus Christ” as a proper name. It became customary in later Christian circles to use Jesus Christ to identify the representative of God on earth.
Being born of the lineage of Joseph makes clear his lineage is attributed to the House of David. The genealogy of Jesus was artificially constructed out of three groups of fourteen names each, taken principally from Genesis, Ruth 1 and 2 Kings. Joseph is not referred to as the father of Jesus but as the husband of Mary. When the mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the power of the Holy Spirit. (From the Gospel According to Matthew, Prologue the Coming of the Savior: Genealogy of Jesus)
It is important to state the antecedents of Jesus Christ during the Easter Season, in order that we may understand his Death and Resurrection. We must understand and see the hand of God in his coming and in his departure. It is necessary for us as Christians to try and understand the history of the antecedents of Christ and the schism that have developed between those that profess to be of the family of God and those who are believers in the Holy scriptures.
Of concern is the just released Encyclical issued this Thursday April 17, 2003. The Encyclical warns the Bishops, Cardinals Priests, Deacons that “only priests can celebrate Mass” and that “divorced Catholics, who remarry, cannot take communion.” The Pope also warned Catholics against receiving communion in “non-catholic churches”.
Perhaps the Pope has forgotten the millions of Catholics in all of Latin America, Africa, Middle East, the Orient, where the last time a Priest has been seen was twenty to thirty years ago. There are regions in South America where whole towns and villages have never seen a Priest. Their faith is maintained by Lay-Deacons who are trained to care for their flock. The original Church where Christ was born had no Priests or Popes. What they had were groups of believers who believed in the Prophets and the coming of the Messiah. Their churches were the homes; the hillsides and meeting rooms were they could bring the message of the coming Messiah. It appears that the Curia is now manipulating the aging Pope to wrest control of the Body of Christ, the Church.
In one stroke, years of effort and sacrifice, by this and past Popes, to bring about Christian unity, has been dealt a serious set back. It is disheartening to see the Church take a step back and seek division rather than Christian unity.
The denial of Communion to divorced couples, that have remarried and are living now in communion with the church, comes at an awkward time. With the hundreds of Priests being exposed as pedophiles, and of breaking their vows of celibacy, and nothing has been done to remove them from saying Mass and giving communion at Mass.
This Easter Sunday, I will pray that the church heal itself first before making outcasts of millions of practicing Catholics. They will continue practicing their religion with or without a Priest. To the millions that haven’t had the benefit of a Priest, they will know no difference. Life will continue. They know what many other good Catholics have learned: THAT WE ARE THE CHURCH!
May The Blessings of the Lord be with each and everyone of you!