How marvellous was the living faith of the early Church Christians once they knew that Jesus was the Messiah and that He had resurrected from the dead! Once Jesus had resurrected by the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit, it did not take Him very long to firmly establish the Mystical Body of the Holy Catholic Church on earth.
During today's First Reading from The Acts of the Apostles, [Acts 4:32-35] we heard of the living faith that united the members of the early Church. They were of one heart and one soul. No one claimed private ownership of any possessions. All shared what they owned for the good of all.
The love and charity that was enjoyed by the early Church Christians is still visible today in a variety of degrees. Many of those who have been called to the religious life have made the vow of poverty in order to live their faith of one heart and soul as was seen in the early Church.
In the worldly life, many of those who are more fortunate than others contribute to charities on an ongoing basis to help the less fortunate. The oneness of heart and soul in today's Christians is seen through the ongoing fruits of the Bishop's appeal, the assistance provided to missions, the United Way Appeal, the Red Cross, special funds set up for those enduring natural disasters, the local Food Banks, and the thousands of other agencies that are managed by an endless number of volunteers who donate their endless time and efforts for the betterment of the world.
While our living faith embraces physical actions, it also requires that we testify to the Word of God. As the apostles gave their testimony to the glorious Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, as instruments of the Lord, we too are called to testify to others as to the reason for our living faith. From the understanding and knowledge of our living faith, our hope and our charity that have been firmly established in Jesus Christ, we are called to share this knowledge and understanding with our brothers and sisters for the growth and benefit of the whole Body of Christ. We are called to share it with our children so they too may establish their living faith in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
The Second Reading from the First Letter of John [1 Jn. 5:1-6] teaches us that "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child."
Through faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism, we were born again as new creations of the godly seed. As new creations, we became children of God. This qualifies us to inherit the eternal Kingdom of God if we persevere in our living faith through the sacramental life. As children of God, if we love our Heavenly Father, then we also love His children, our brothers and sisters in Christ.
How do we know if we love our brothers and sisters in Christ? It is by our love for God and by our obedience to His Commandments. The Commandments of God are not hard to obey for those who are born again. For their living faith in Christ testifies to their victory, that they have conquered the world. Their charitable actions and their testifying as to the Word of God to others is a sure sign that while they are in the world, they are not of this world. Their minds are set on what is spiritual in the hope of things to come.
Our living faith is in Jesus, the Son of God. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit." [Jn. 3:5] Through the words that were inspired upon John the Baptist, we know that through Jesus, we are baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire. [Mt. 3:11] Having received our Baptism through water, it is the Holy Spirit who purifies us as we are sanctified to become in the likeness of Christ.
When Jesus was baptized, it was not to be born again. For He is the eternal God. His baptism was an example for us to follow. The baptism of Jesus was not only a baptism by water, but also by blood. He gave His life for us as the sacrificial Lamb of God.
Who shall testify on our behalf that we have been born again through faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism? Who shall testify on our behalf that we have lived our faith in Christ? Who shall testify on our behalf that we allowed ourselves to be sanctified in Christ by the purifying fire of the Holy Spirit? Will it be our parents, our godparents or our friends?
No! It is the Holy Spirit Himself Who shall testify on our behalf. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who bears witness that we have received the new creation of the godly seed during the Sacrament of Baptism. It is indwelling Holy Spirit who shall testify that we have walked our faith in Christ and allowed ourselves to be sanctified by His purifying fire.
Most of us, we remember today's reading from the Gospel of John. [Jn. 20:19-31] We all know the story of the doubting Thomas who said that he would not believe that Jesus had resurrected until such time as he had touched the mark of the nails and the side of the Lord. The Holy Bible does not tell us if St. Thomas ever did touch the marks on the body of Jesus. But it does tell us that once Jesus had appeared to St. Thomas, he suddenly came to believe. St. Thomas said, "My Lord and my God!" Not only did St. Thomas perceive at that moment that Jesus was His Lord and teacher, but that He was also the eternal God manifested in human form.
In response to the doubt of St. Thomas, Jesus said, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." Yes, blessed are those who have not seen and who believe! Do you realize that not having seen Jesus, because of your living faith in Him, you are more blessed than the Apostle St. Thomas who doubted? What a blessing!
When Jesus appeared to His disciples, He breathed the Holy Spirit upon them. In other words, the Holy Spirit made His indwelling within the disciples and they became full of the Holy Spirit. Their minds were opened to the knowledge and understanding of the Spirit of Truth.
Having done this, Jesus authorized His Apostles to forgive the sins of others in His Name. Those who's sins are forgiven shall be forgiven. Those who sins are retained shall be retained.
This statement of Jesus testifies to the truth regarding the Sacrament of Confession. While some may want to believe that they can confess their sins directly to God the Father by bypassing those who have been appointed by Jesus to administer the Sacrament of Confession in the Holy Catholic Church, they are living a false hope. Without the Sacrament of Confession through the priests who have received the faculty to hear Confessions and who are in direct succession to the Apostles of Jesus, there is no forgiveness of sins.
Jesus did not say, "Be baptized and you are saved." He gave a number of commands. The Sacrament of Baptism through faith in Jesus Christ opens the door to our salvation. It makes us righteousness in the eyes of God through the forgiveness of the original sin and the sins committed before our Baptism. To maintain that righteousness, we must receive the Sacrament of Confession on a regular basis. The Sacrament of Confession that returns our state of grace is still insufficient for our salvation. We still need the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Living Bread that leads to the salvation to our souls.
My brothers and sisters, to live our faith in Jesus, we must receive the Sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church. To live our faith in Jesus, we must abide by the Commandments of God. By doing these things, we will have life in His Most Holy Name.