As many of you may know, I have joined Bible Study Fellowship in a study of the book of Matthew this fall. So far, I’ve been to two meetings and I love the fellowship and devotion as well as the actual study and lectures themselves. I’ll be honest, I rank the Gospels in terms of favorites 1. Luke 2. Mark 3. Matthew 4. John. So I thought, Matthew, meh, but I do think it is wonderful to be studying as this Advent at the start of the new liturgical year we will again begin Year A which features the Gospels of Matthew.
This study could not have come at a better time in my life. Each week we are given notes after the lecture and questions to be completed. Because prophecies are fulfilled (particularly in Matthew which was written for the Jewish converts to Christianity so they would have definitive proof that Christ did fulfill the Old Testament Messianic prophecies) you read a lot of material in the Bible in addition to the actual Gospel or study material.
Tonight, I felt called to go ahead and complete the third day’s work since I have some extra time and this weekend will be pretty full for us. And there it was. In discussing the visit of the Magi, the flight into Egypt and the murder of the Holy Innocents, was a question about how followers of Christ, Christians, treated with similar hostility as Herod showed the Jews after the Magi told him of the Star and the infant they were coming to visit. It asked me to reference 1 Peter 2.
Reading 1 Peter Chapter 2 for BSF and it jumps at me the same way it did this past March:
Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it says in scripture:”Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious, and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame.”Therefore, its value is for you who have faith but for those without faith:”The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”and”A stone that will make people stumble,and a rock that will make them fall.”They stumble by disobeying the word, as is their destiny. 1 Peter 2:4-8
It’s jumping at me just like it did almost exactly six months to the day it did the last time. When I heard it as the second reading in Pope Francis’ first mass. The mass in which the Conclave ended.
Francis, rebuild My church.
And from this same Gospel we are studying now:
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.And 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.I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Matthew 16: 17-19
God, my heart is open, my spirit is willing, please guide me into making these spiritual sacrifices. I am listening. You have my full attention, I promise you. I will not reject or stumble. I trust in you, the Holy Spirit. I will build it, I will help Pope Francis rebuild it. He is in the chair of Peter, the rock upon whom you built your church.
My head is kind of spinning right now. God has been leading me down some interesting roads this year that I never would have or could have imagined. I have had some Catholics deride me because I am devoted to Pope Francis as I was Benedict and John Paul before him. He is, “so different” they all want to say. Until I find something that one of the other two said that is strikingly similar. Yes, his charism is different, but that Holy Spirit, as I’ve been saying, He knows what he’s doing. Better I trust Him than the arm-chair Cardinals who would have elected who? (Crickets) And it is not beneficial to anyone to use the fact that different Popes have different charisms to divide the Church.
And how do I best build Christ’s church here on earth? I heard you God, I know you called me. I’m telling the whole world here on the interwebs. I’m trying to figure out how, exactly, You want me to go about doing this. Well, here is what I KNOW I am doing to fulfill that call, thus far:
1. I am praying for the Church and Her people.
2. I am praying for Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict.
3. I am praying for those who don’t believe. Yet.
4. I am raising sons to be strong in their faith and forceful in their conviction of it.
5. I am doing what you tell me to (I went to book club and BSF for starters) that is uncomfortable to me.
6. I’m telling everyone how you called me on my blog and on facebook.
7. I’m remaining open to your instructions.
I’m sure there is going to be more that will be required. There have been a lot of twists and turns, ups and downs this past year. I’m holding on for dear life.
God, You have spoken. And You have my full attention.