Trusting Jesus, the gospels, the Church

This weekend in Rome, the newly confirmed young people will make a little pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter, where they will profess together the Creed of the Church.

St. Peter's tomb, under the High Altar of the Basilica

St. Peter’s tomb, under the High Altar of the Basilica

I don’t think the young people of our parishes will be able to go.

But the important thing to focus on is: Closeness to God, closeness to the Church, and closeness to St. Peter all go hand-in-hand. If I want to live as a friend of my Maker, I live as a friend of His Church. If I want to live as a friend of God’s Church, I live as a friend of the Apostolic See of Peter.

No one could affirm this connection more convincingly than St. Mark could affirm it.

Mark started life as a devout believer in the one, true God of Israel. Mark grew up with Peter as a kind of unofficial uncle. In our first reading at today’s Mass for the Feast of St. Mark, we hear Peter refer to Mark as a son.

St. Mark wrote down a gospel. Where did he learn all of its contents? From St. Peter. How do we know that? St. Justin Martyr, St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Jerome, Origen, Tertullian, Eusebius, and practically every other early Christian who wrote anything down–they all testify to the fact that St. Mark wrote down what St. Peter preached.

Donatello St. MarkWe have a task, the New Evangelization. Let’s focus on the crucial dimension of trust.

Centuries of disputes have preceded our generation, disputes about God, reason, Jesus, the Bible, and the Church. To oversimplify, maybe we could summarize the disputes like this: Protestants have maintained that we can absolutely trust the Bible more than we trust our own minds, and we must absolutely distrust the Pope and the Church. On the other hand, Rationalists have argued that Jesus was a great guy, and there may be a God somewhere, but you can’t trust the Bible or the Church; you can only trust “rational” scientists and historians.

But after all these centuries of argument, the following is actually clearer than ever, to anyone who thoroughly investigates these matters: 1) Faith in God, the loving Father, and faith in Jesus are inseparable. 2) Jesus, the Apostles, St. Peter, and the four canonical gospels are inseparable. 3) The Old Testament, the New Testament, the Pope, and the Church are inseparable.

We do not really have a choice between the one, universal God of love and the God of Jesus, or between Jesus and the Apostles, or between the Bible and the Church, or between reasonableness and religion.

The only real choice we have is between having a life that makes sense, because Jesus makes sense of it for me through His Church, which bears His true, trustworthy Word–or having a life that doesn’t make sense at all.

O holy patron, my father, my lord, St. Mark–friend and son and disciple of St. Peter, who was friend and son and disciple of Christ: Pray for us, that we might trust God, His Son, His Word, and His Church, and trusting, help others to trust, too!

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