Reflections on Lumen Gentium, Part 19

19. The Lord Jesus, after praying to the Father, calling to Himself those whom He desired, appointed twelve to be with Him, and whom He would send to preach the Kingdom of God;(137) and these apostles(138) He formed after the manner of a college or a stable group, over which He placed Peter chosen from among them.(139) He sent them first to the children of Israel and then to all nations,(140) so that as sharers in His power they might make all peoples His disciples, and sanctify and govern them,(141) and thus spread His Church, and by ministering to it under the guidance of the Lord, direct it all days even to the consummation of the world.(142) And in this mission they were fully confirmed on the day of Pentecost(143) in accordance with the Lord’s promise: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and in Samaria, and even to the very ends of the earth”.(144) And the apostles, by preaching the Gospel everywhere,(145) and it being accepted by their hearers under the influence of the Holy Spirit, gather together the universal Church, which the Lord established on the apostles and built upon blessed Peter, their chief, Christ Jesus Himself being the supreme cornerstone.(146)(3*)

137 Mk. 3:13-19; Mt. 10:1-42.

138 Cf Lk. 6:13.

139 Cf. Jn. 21:15-17.

140 Rom. 1:16.

141 Cf. Mt. 28:16-20; Mk. 16:15; Lk. 24:45-48; Jn. 20:21-23.

142 Cf. Mt. 28:20.

143 Cf. Acts 2:1-26.

144 Acts 1.8.

145 Cf. Mk. 16:20.

146 Cf. Rev. 21:14; Mt. 16:18; Eph. 2:20.

(3) Cfr. Liber sacramentorum S. Gregorii, Praefatio in Cathedra S. Petri, in natali S. Mathiae et S. Thomas: PL 78, 50, 51 et 152. S. Hilarius, In Ps. 67, 10: PL 9, 4S0; CSEL 22, p. 286. S.Hieronymus, Adv. Iovin. 1, 26: PL 23, 247 A. S. Augustinus, In Ps. 86, 4: PL 37, 1103. S. Gregorius M., Mor. in lob, XXVIII, V: PL 76, 455-456. Primasius, Comm. in Apoc. V: PL 68, 924 BC. Paschasius Radb., In Matth. L. VIII, cap. 16: PL 120, 561 C. Cfr. Leo XIII, Epist. Et sane, 17 dec. 1888: AAS 21 (1888) p. 321.


This paragraph rather speaks for itself as a summary of the Lord Jesus’ plan for the leadership of His Church on earth.

Jesus called the Twelve and sent them out to preach the Good News of the coming of God’s Kingdom. The word apostle means “sent out,” and it was to these men He gave the Great Commission to teach all nations to follow all He had commanded them, and to baptize them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The responsibility of the Apostles is the responsibility of the bishops of the Church today, as it has been throughout the centuries: the teach, to sanctify, and to govern. Since Christ did not return during the apostolic age, it only makes sense that He would intend that there be successors of the Apostles, to carry on their work to teach, sanctify, and govern “even to the consummation of the world.” The bishops today are those successors of the Apostles.

Jesus Himself established St. Peter as the chief Apostle, giving to him and him alone the keys to the Kingdom, and the charge to “feed my sheep.” St. Peter co-founded the Church in Rome and became it’s first bishop. Since then, the Bishop of Rome has been recognized and truly is the successor of St. Peter as chief among the apostles, holding the keys to the Kingdom and possessing the charge to “feed my sheep.”

It was Jesus Who founded the Church, and Jesus Who established the hierarchical structure of the Church in the bishops, with the responsibility to teach, to sanctify, and to govern. This is a gift to the faithful, that we might have confidence in the revelation of God given to us by Christ through His Church as inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit. The Church is established on the apostles, built on St. Peter, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone. So it was. So it is. So it will be to the consummation of the world.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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