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Apr 212017
 

Saint Peter's Square from the dome

Prophets of all times since the Old Testament have mentioned the Shepherd Who would gather His flock.

“Here comes with power the Lord God, who rules by his strong arm; here is his reward with him, his recompense before him. Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care” (Isaiah 40, 10-11).

Ezekiel clearly tells us about the Shepherd and His Flock:

“For thus says the Lord God: I myself will look after and tend my sheep. As a shepherd tends his flock when he finds himself among his scattered sheep, so I will tend my sheep. I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark. I will lead them from among the peoples and gather them from foreign lands; I will bring them back to their own country and pasture them upon the mountains of Israel … In good pastures will I pasture them, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing ground. There they shall lie down on good grazing ground, and in rich pastures shall they be pastured on the mountains of Israel. I myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest, says the Lord God” (Ezekiel 34, 11-15).

Ezekiel devotes the whole Chapter 34 to show that the Lord Himself will guide His people, the Church.

“You, my sheep, you are the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, says the Lord God” (Ezekiel 34, 31).

The Lord has such a great zeal for His Flock that He Himself will replace the bad shepherds.

“Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been pasturing themselves! Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep? You have fed off their milk, worn their wool, and slaughtered the fatlings, but the sheep you have not pastured. You did not strengthen the weak not heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost, but you lorded it over them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered and wandered over all the mountains and high hills; my sheep were scattered over the whole earth, with no one to look after them or to search for them… my shepherds did not look after my sheep, but pastured themselves and did not pasture my sheep…I swear I am coming against these shepherds, I will claim my sheep from them and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep so that they may no longer pasture themselves. I will save my sheep, that they may no longer be food for their mouths. …I myself will look after and tend my sheep” (Ezekiel 34, 1-11).

This long prophecy by Ezekiel shows God’s Love and great care for His people, nowadays gathered in the Church. This great Love makes the Shepherd lay down His life for His sheep.

“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10, 11).

The Church is also represented in the Gospel as “God’s field”, or “God’s building”, as Saint Paul says:

“For, we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (The First Letter to the Corinthians 3, 9).

Professor Felipe Aquino

Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino

 Posted by at 01:01
Apr 072017
 

Saint Peter's Square from the dome

By valyag (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Saint Joan of Arc, before her judges, summed up the Faith of the Doctors of the Church in these few words: “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter” (CCC # 795).

We receive the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ in a sacramental way in the Eucharist, so that we can form Christ’s social body in the unity of all members.

Saint Paul asks: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (The First Letter to the Corinthians 10, 16).

The Apostle himself answers: “Because the loaf of bread is one, we though many, are one body for we all partake of the one loaf”(The First Letter to the Corinthians 10, 17).

Eucharist forms the Church and the Church celebrates Eucharist. When we celebrate the communion with the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ we become “consanguineous” (N.T. Latin consanguineus, fr. Com- + sanguine-, sanguis blood: of the same blood or origin) and “co-corporal” with the Christ and a living part of His own Body. Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (dead in 386 A.D.) said that Eucharist makes us “Christophorus”, which means “carriers of the Christ”; in the words of Saint Peter: “He has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature” (The Second Letter of Peter 1, 4).

The Head feeds the whole Body especially during Eucharist so that the members can receive the grace and the strength to live as real Christians, so that Christ can be “formed in” them (The Letter to the Galatians 4, 19) and so that they have strength to “follow in his footsteps” (The First Letter of Peter 2, 21).

We ask the Father during the Eucharistic Prayer: “…grant us that, being nourished by the Body and the Blood of Your Son, we can be filled with the Holy Spirit and become one Body and one spirit with the Christ”.

Therefore we cannot separate Christ from His Church. That would be equivalent to behead a person in the hope he or she could stay alive: this is absurd. We cannot behead Christ’s Body, in other words, we cannot separate Him from the Church. That was Martin Luther’s big unfortunate mistake in 1517, when he said Yes to Christ and No to the Church; he did not realize that he was mutilating Christ’s Body, trying to behead this Body. Departing from that, many subdivisions took place in an irreversible unstoppable way all over the world. That is the greatest scandal Christianity gave to the world.

Prof Felipe Aquino

Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino

 Posted by at 01:01
Mar 312017
 

Saint Peter's Square from the dome

By valyag (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Everybody has the same importance before God’s eyes and for His Church, because everybody is a member of His Family, united in Jesus Christ. As Saint Paul said:

“God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another” (The First Letter to the Corinthians 12, 24-25).

God teaches us to live in mutual love and charity: He disposes things in such a way that each one of us needs the other to build His Family and His Kingdom on Earth. This should eliminate arrogant self-sufficiency and haughty presumption in each member: God made us in such a way that we need one another. There should never be strife, rivalry and jealousy among members because – as Saint Paul said – “God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as He intended” (The First Letter to the Corinthians 12, 18).

Therefore each one of us who were baptized should be proud of being considered worth of belonging to that Sacred Body: we should willingly accept our place in this Body and collaborate in the growth of that Body as a faithful member, a member that obeys the Head and serves the other members.

“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy” (The First Letter to the Corinthians 12, 26).

The beauty of the Church lies in the diversity of Her members, each one with its particular functions, co-operating with the Head for the sake of everybody.

“If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body” (The First Letter to the Corinthians 12, 19-20).

The Holy Spirit grants different kinds of charisma to different members of the Body of Christ; no member is left without a special kind of charisma and the special charisma of one member is a blessing to everybody:

“To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit” (The First Letter to the Corinthians 12, 7).

“But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes” (The First Letter to the Corinthians 12, 11).

Finally, Saint Paul condenses his whole teaching by saying:

“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it” (The First Letter to the Corinthians 12, 17).

“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (The Letter to the Galatians 3, 27-28).

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” (The First Letter to the Corinthians 6, 15).

Prof Felipe Aquino

Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino

 Posted by at 01:01
Mar 242017
 

Saint Peter's Square from the dome

By valyag (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

In His Prayer during the Last Supper and before suffering His Passion, Jesus asked His Father: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are” (John 17, 11)… “so that they may all be  one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us” (John 17, 21)… “And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one…”(John 17, 22-23).

Nothing can be worse to Christ’s Body than the breaking of that Unity; it is and shall always be the worst scandal in the Church.

It is easy to imagine the misery someone would live in if the members of his or her body fought one another and did not obey the command of the brains. Just imagine what would happen if hands denied feeding the mouth and putting clothes on the body; just imagine what would happen if legs felt jealous or envious of the other members and denied carrying them: how miserable would the body feel…? Just imagine if the heart fought the brains and decided not to beat anymore…

We could give wings to imagination and multiply these examples, though this unfortunate person would in the end suffer a terrible death as a final consequence of this war. The same can happen to the Church if there is no unit and harmony among Her members. Unfortunately there are so many divisions inside the Church, caused by the sins of Her children, that the fact that the Church still exists and survived all kinds of crises is in itself the greatest evidence that She is divine and supported by the Lord Himself.

“So 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” (Matthew 16, 18).

Inside this most beautiful Body of the Christ, united and vivified by the Holy Spirit, all the members are like cells: each one performs essential tasks to keep the Body alive.

“As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of the Spirit” (The First Letter to the Corinthians 12, 12-13).

The Apostle is really inspired when he compares the Church to a body:

“Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say: ‘Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,’ it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, ‘because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,’ it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I do not need you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I do not need you’”(The First Letter to the Corinthians 12, 14-21).

At the end of his reasoning, the Apostle concludes: “Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary” (The First Letter to the Corinthians 12, 22).

 

Prof Felipe Aquino

Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino

 Posted by at 01:01
Mar 172017
 

Saint Peter's Square from the dome

By valyag (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Through faith and the Sacraments we become members of Our Lord’s Body.

“In that Body the life of Christ is poured into the believers who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ who suffered and was glorified” (Lumen Gentium # 7).

That is the reason why each and every Baptized Christian is called to “conforming with” the Christ (NT. From the Latin conformare = com/like, with, according to + formare/to form); that means taking the same shape of, being similar or identical to the Christ in suffering and in glory. Like Saint Paul told Saint Timothy:

“This saying is trustworthy: if we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him” (The Second Letter to Timothy 2, 11-12).

The Popes of the Church have always affirmed: “Christianus alter Christus”, which means that  “a Christian is another Christ”, precisely because he is a member of Christ’s Body and he lives in His Spirit. Saint Paul actually felt he was a member of the Christ and affirmed:

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” (The Letter to the Colossians 1, 24).

Saint Paul Apostle also reveals his perfect identification with the Christ-Head of the Church in his Letter to the Galatians:

“Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me” (The Letter to the Galatians 2, 20).

Saint Paul also reveals his perfect communion with the Christ in his Letter to the Philippians:

“My eager expectation and hope is that I shall not be put to shame in any way, but that with all boldness, now as always, Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain” (The Letter to the Philippians 1, 20 21).

Paul wanted the Philippians to share the same feeling of belonging to the Body of the Christ:

“Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus”(The Letter to the Philippians 2, 5).

In other words, he wanted the members of the Body to act in accordance with their Head.

“Complete my joy be being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing” (The Letter to the Philippians 2, 3).

The ultimate goal of each and every member of the Body is to be in total conformity with the Head:

“He is the head of the body, the church” (The Letter to the Colossians 1, 18).

We have been inserted in the Mystery of His Life to achieve that goal:

“My children, for whom I am in labor until Christ be formed in you” (The Letter to the Galatians 4, 19).

The Church is “just one Body” and therefore its greatest need is unity. Christ and the Apostles have repeatedly pointed at that fact. During the Last Supper Jesus prays His Father before His Passion:

“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are” (John 17, 11).

Prof Felipe Aquino

Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino

 Posted by at 01:01
Mar 102017
 

Saint Peter's Square from the dome

By valyag (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

When Jesus ascended to Heaven, He did not leave His Church orphan.

“I will not let you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14, 18).

He gave His Disciples the guarantee He would stay with them to the end of times.

“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of age” (Matthew 28, 20).

Not to leave His Church orphan, He sent His Spirit:

“… He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the holy Spirit’” (John 20, 22).

He gave them the Holy Spirit when He appeared for the first time to His Disciples in the Cenacle. On the day of Pentecost, Saint Peter declared:

“Exalted at the right hand of God, he received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured it forth, as you [both] see and hear” (The Acts of the Apostles 2, 33).

The Effusion of the Holy Spirit over the Apostles on Pentecost made the invisible communion between Jesus and His Church even more intense. After His Ascension, instead of being “with” His people, Jesus is “in” His people, in His Church, through the Holy Spirit. Vatican Council II teaches us:

By communicating His Spirit, Christ made His brothers, called together from all nations mystically the components of His own Body” (Lumen Gentium, 7).

“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit” (The First Letter to the Corinthians 12, 13).

The Sacrament of Baptism joins us to the Death and Resurrection of the Christ; it also makes us in His likeness.

“We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection” (Romans 6, 4-5).

Therefore we become members of Christ’s Body (see The First Letter to the Corinthians 12, 17): ‘so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another” (Romans 12, 5).

This is the Church!

Saint Leo the Great (died 461 AD) says:

“O Christian, acknowledge your dignity. You share the divine nature…Always remember the Head you belong to and the Body you are a member of” (Sermons 21, Chapter 3).

The Church is not simply congregated around the Christ; She is unified in Him and in His Body. It is not a mere “club”; it is the Body of Jesus that goes on living all through human history.

 

Prof Felipe Aquino

Professor Felipe Aquino is a widower, father of five children. On TV Canção Nova he presents the program “Escola da Fé” [School of faith] and “Pergunte e Responderemos” [Ask and respond], on Radio he presents the program “in the heart of the Church”. On weekends he preaches deepening meetings throughout Brazil and abroad. He wrote 73 books of Catholic background by publishers, Loyola and Cleopas and Canção Nova. His teacher’s page:www.cleofas.com.br Twitter: @pfelipeaquino

 Posted by at 01:01
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