A few moments ago, we heard that Jesus said, “Whoever is not against us is for us.” What does this Bible passage mean? Are we to understand that Jesus is saying that He is tolerant of those who minister in His Most Holy Name apart from His association? Are we to understand it today to mean that Jesus is tolerant of all the Christian Churches, that all religions are equal? Based on those who apply ‘Sola Scriptura’ in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, this is certainly the conclusion that they have drawn, consequently leading to thousands of divisions within the Christian community.
On September 5, 2000, the Vatican released a theological document called “Dominus Jesus.” Its purpose was to correct Church theologians who were distorting the true meaning of the spirit of ecumenism. In that document, the Catholic Church rejected pluralism that implies that all religions are equal. To teach that one religion is as good as another one endangers the Church’s missionary message that the fullness of salvation can only be found in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. As some of you may have heard, that document created a worldwide reaction from a number of Christian denominations. At the same time, some of them admitted that this document proposed nothing new, that this had always been the position of the Holy Catholic Church. The difficulty that they had was that they had not heard the Vatican expressing it so openly since before Vatican II.
Today’s First Reading from the Old Testament Book of Numbers opens our eyes to the fact that the position of God’s people in the days of the Old Testament was no different than today’s position of the Vatican.
First of all, The Lord God told Moses, “Gather for me seventy of the elders of the people and they shall bear the burden of the people along with you so that you do not bear it all by yourself.”
Two thousand years ago, Jesus did the same thing to help Him with His ministry. He “appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.” Following that example, today, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has all the Bishops of the world who number in the thousands, they assisting him in the effective administration of the Body of Christ, the Holy Catholic Church.
Secondly, we heard in the First Reading that among the seventy who were registered, two stayed behind in the camp and prophesied. When Joshua, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, saw this, he reported it to Moses. Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put His Spirit in them.”
Now, what we perceive here is that two persons remained in the tent and they continued to do the work of the Lord. The other sixty-eight, had left the tent, no longer prophesy.
In consideration that a lot of the events in the life of Moses foreshadowed the life of Jesus, let us review the similarities between the men who prophesied in the camp and the man who cast out demons in the Name of Jesus. Moses was chosen by God to free His people from slavery. Jesus was chosen by God to free His people from the slavery of sin.
Two of those appointed by Moses, filled with the Holy Spirit, continued to prophesy. Can the same be said about the man who was casting out demons in the Name of Jesus? We have no choice but to come to that conclusion:
First, how could the man cast out demons in the Name of Jesus if he did not know Jesus, had not heard of Him, had not heard His teachings, nor had seen the power of God manifested through Him? Surely, the man could not speak of someone that he did not know! Nor could he do the work of Jesus if he had not heard the teachings of Jesus! Nor would he attempt to cast out demons on his own if he had not seen the power of God manifested through Jesus.
Secondly, how could the man cast out demons if he was not filled with the Holy Spirit? It is not everyone who can cast out demons.
From this, it can be concluded that unless one lives by the teachings of Jesus, in the Spirit of Truth, he cannot do the work of the Lord Jesus, nor be of the Body of Christ. Jesus said, “Whoever is not against us is for us.”
When the two men prophesied, they did so for the people of God, not for the pagans in the surrounding nations. When the man cast out a demon in the name of Jesus, he did so according to the teachings of Jesus, not the teachings of the Jewish people or of those who adored idols.
When the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church says that the fullness of salvation can only be obtained through the Mother Church that enjoys the fullness of revelation, it means exactly that!
Some people say ‘All churches are the same and it doesn’t matter which one you belong to.’ But this is obviously not so. There are huge differences and contradictions between religions, not to mention the other Christian denominations and the Catholic Church.
You might say to these people ‘Well, if there’s no difference, why don’t you become a Catholic then?’
Jesus founded only one Church to whom he gave the gospel, one truth, under the one authority of the Apostles and their successors. I believe that Church to be the Catholic Church. That’s why I belong to it!
It’s not that it’s a nicer Church, or a bigger Church, or a more orderly Church – it’s that it is the one, true Church. That’s the only reason I belong to it because, in many ways, it’s one of the hardest things to be a good Catholic.
In dealing with religion and particularly with Christianity, one of the big questions asked is: “Where is Jesus Christ?” Where can I encounter Him? Different Christian churches have different answers. As Catholics we answer that fundamental question by noting that Christ is present to us in His Word and in His Sacraments. Certainly Holy Scriptures can connect us to Christ. But as Catholics we are equally certain that He is present to us in Holy Communion and in all of our Church’s Sacraments. The Sacraments are not simply religious rituals. They are the acts of Jesus Christ working through His presence within His Mystical Body, the Church. Jesus Christ is, after all, exactly where He said He would be, in His Church.
The fullness of truth which Jesus gave his very life to bring to the world now resides only in the Catholic Church. Other denominations have lots of that truth but not all of it – and some even oppose and deny some of the truths they once believed. I heard somebody saying:
‘What they say is full of truth … it’s just that there’s not enough of it.’
If they are not against us they are for us, there are parts of truth in many believes and religions, but we have company of Jesus real presence in the Eucharist, can you imagine any better or closer relationship? We are like Apostles from today’s Gospel passage let us enjoy Jesus presence, and be grateful and praise the Lord if good things are happening in other Christian denominations.
Jesus taught many things while he walked among us and then ascended into heaven, leaving us in the hands of his Church.
So let me ask you. Do you rejoice that you are a Catholic? The Church is the Bride of Christ and a bride deserves to be loved. So maybe I should be asking ‘Do you love the Church?’