The Catholic Defender: The Apostle John, the Narrow Way To Heaven

Posted by John Benko - December 27th, 2013

December 27 this year is the feast of St. John the Apostle.

St. John was one of the original followers Christ called as he was fishing with his Brother James.

They were the sons of Zebedee. After the first miracle of the catch of fish, “they left everything and followed him”.

Jesus chose 12 Apostles, but Peter, James and John were the Lord’s leaders.

They were present at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1) and in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37).

St. John was the youngest and probably the fastest among the Apostles (John 20:4).

It is interesting that he beat St. Peter to the tomb, yet he waited for St. Peter to inspect the tomb first. St. John was refereed to as the one “whom Jesus loved”.

Of the Apostles, only St. John is mentioned to be present at the crucifixion scene.

The Lord from the cross gave his Mother to St. John to stay and care for her in his house.

Like St. John, we too have been given our Lady as a gift, as our Mother.

St. Peter asked our Lord about St. John, how he would die.

Jesus had told St. Peter how he would glorify God with his death, so Jesus responds to him saying, “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me. So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die”.

St. John witnessed all the miracles and teachings of Jesus personally.

He would be significant in spreading the gospel, ordaining men to the priesthood such as St. Polycarp and Ignatius of Antioch.

He would take Mary with him to Ephesus where he cared for her and the Church.

St. John would write the fourth Gospel, three Epistles, and the book of Revelation (The Apocalypse).

He had been imprisoned on the Greek Island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea.

Many Scholars place the writing of the book of Revelation near the end of the first century. Others think it could be somewhat earlier (A.D. 81-96).

The Gospel of John is filled with signs (seven), the wonders of Jesus: The changing of water into wine, the cure of the royal officials son, the cure of the paralytic at the pool, the woman at the well in Samaria, the multiplication of loaves, the walking on the water, the Eucharist.

All these signs signify the changing of life through water offering new life, Jesus life giving word.

Scholars believe St. John wrote this book while in Ephesus but that is not universally held.

What is important is that the Catholic Church at the Council of Hippo recognized the Gospel of John through Sacred Tradition was inspired of God. St.John’s Gospel is different from the three “synoptic” gospels; Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Something very interesting to me about St.John is the fact that after witnessing the events of Jesus, his teaching, his death and resurrection.

After his own ministry of the Apostolic witness being the last of the Apostles who knew Jesus personally, he writes in Revelation 22:8: It is I John, who heard and saw these things, and when I heard and saw them I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. But he said to me, ‘Don’t! I am a fellow servant of yours and your brothers the prophets and of those who keep the message of this book, Worship God”.

First, the angel said he was a servant of St. John and the brothers of St. John, the prophets, and the Church. The angel is recognizing the authority of the successors of the Apostles. By this time, St. John was the last of the Apostles. Who are the brothers, the prophets, and “those keeping the message of this book” that the angel was referring to?

The Pope at this time was probably St. Clement (A.D. 88-97), St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Polycarp most certainly.

I believe this is significant. The Catholic Church maintains the authority that the angel recognized way back then.

The other point I wanted to make about this passage is that St. John was about to worship this angel? With his scope, that is incredible.

That is a lesson that all of us are capable of sin and falling short. Like St. John, we too need to be reminded from time to time to “Worship God”!

By contrast, consider the Archangel Gabriel appearing to a lowly virgin. We are celebrating the events that the angel foretold to Mary because this affects all of mankind.

There is much that St. John presents in his witness that is important to the Church.

The Trinity, the Eucharist, Mary as Mother, the Sacraments and signs of Jesus, the unity of the Church, the Holy Spirit. Let us “Worship God” who is the “Narrow way to Heaven”.

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The Catholic Defender: To Whom Shall We Go

Posted by John Benko - July 23rd, 2013

Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” The Lord was reacting to the many who were formerly following him. When Jesus is speaking to “the Twelve”, he is speaking to the whole Church. St. Peter’s response is the million dollar question! “To whom shall we go”? With all the voices out in the public square competing for position in the heart and mind of people, St. Peter clearly defines Jesus: “You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

It’s interesting that it was also St. Peter speaking for the “Twelve“, the whole Church, identifying who Jesus is. Jesus asked his disiples “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The response was varied, “some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” It was St. Peter who came out saying, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

It is important to understand who Jesus is because he is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Jesus has the words of eternal life!

St. John put it this way, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” He was in the beginning with God… And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”

Jesus Said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is what St. Peter and the Apostles came to believe through following the Lord and witnessing his public miracles. Jesus changed the water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana in Galilee and revealed his glory, “and his disciples began to believe in him”.

Of the works of Jesus, St. John writes, “It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. There are many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world contain the books that would be written.”

I want to come back to St. Peter’s question, “To whom shall we go”? What does this mean? Can we know where to find this truth?

At the Trial of Sir THOMAS MORE Knight, Lord Chancellor of England, for High- Treason in denying; King Henry VIII’s act of Supremecy, May 7, 1535. St. Thomas said:

” Who presently made Answer in these words: For as much as, my Lords, this Indictment is grounded upon an Act of Parliament, directly repugnant ,to the Laws of God and his Holy Church, the Supreme Government of which, or of any part thereof, no Temporal Person may by any Law presume to take upon him, being what right belongs to the See of Rome, which by special Prerogative was granted by the Mouth of our Savior Christ himself to St. Peter, and the Bishops of Rome his Successors only, whilst he lived, and was personally present here on Earth: it is therefore, amongst Catholic Christians, insufficient in Law, to charge any Christian to obey it. And in order to the proof of his Assertion, he declared among other things, that whereas this Kingdom alone being but one Member, and a small part of the Church, was not to make a particular Law disagreeing with the general Law of Christ’s universal Catholic Church, no more than the City of London, being but one Member in respect to the whole Kingdom, might enact a Law against an Act of Parliament, to be binding to the whole Realm: so he shewed farther, That Law was ,even contrary to the Laws and Statutes of the Kingdom yet unrepealed, as might evidently be seen by Magna Charta, wherein are these Words; Ecclesia Anglicana libera sit, & habet omnia jura integra, & libertates suas illcesas: And it is contrary also to that sacred Oath which the King’s Majesty himself, and every other Christian Prince, always take with great Solemnity, at their Coronations.”

So great was Sir Thomas’s Zeal, that he further alleged, that it was worse in the Kingdom of England becasue of their rebellion. St. Thomas More believed Obedience to the See of Rome was likened to any Child to do to his natural Parent: for, as St. Paul said to the Corinthians, I have regenerated you, my Children, in Christ; so might that worthy Pope of Rome, St. Gregory the Great, say of us Englishmen, Ye are my Children, because I have given you everlasting Salvation: for by St. Augustine and his followers, his immediate Messengers, England first received the Christian faith, which is a far higher and better Inheritance than any carnal Sather can leave to his Children; for a. Son is only by generation, we are by Regeneration made the spiritual Children of Christ and the Pope.”

St. Thomas More was put to death because he would not renounce Jesus Christ before any court of man. Of the Church that Christ founded, Isaiah wrote, “No weapon fashioned against you shall prevail; every tongue you shall prove false that launches an accusation against you. This is the lot of the sevants of the Lord, their vindication from me, says the Lord.”

Because of King Henry’s persecution of the Catholic Faith, bringing Protestantism into England, a massive persecution of the Church took place between 1534 until 1829. Also, other denominations grew out of the Protestant movement such as the various Baptist groups, the Methodist and through the King James Bible, they influenced much of the Protestant world.

St. Paul writes, “So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

This is the answer to St. Peter’s question, “To Whom shall we go!” We are to go to His Church, the Catholic Church. The Church St. Paul referred to as the “pillar and foundation of truth.”

God’s grace is imparted upon the world through the Lord Jesus Christ’s Church. St. Paul writes, “Because of this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles–if, as I suppose, you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was GIVEN TO ME for your benefit, namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly earlier.” The Apostles became the arbitors of Grace, transmitting this grace through the Sacraments.

This is why the Lord chose the Apostles and commissioned them to go to all the nations. St. Paul himself received this grace states, “Of this I became a minister by the gift of God’s grace that was granted me in accord with the excercise of his power. To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for all what the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things, so that manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens.”

What are the “riches of Christ?” What is the “mystery hidden from ages past?” It is the fulfillment of the new Covenant promised through the Prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34), it is the sign the people who first abandoned Christ asked for (John 6:30).

Jesus Christ is the sign come down from heaven, he is the “Bread of Life” who comes to us at every Eucharist. Jesus is present to you each and every Communion. When the Priest elevates the host proclaiming “the Body of Christ“, by saying “Amen”, we answer St. Peter’s question, “To whom shall we go”! To go to Him who has called us, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed”. Amen!

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