Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two
“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town”. (Luke 10)
It is quite clear from the above – and from the call of the Apostles – that Jesus Himself called specific people and gave them a commission to go out and perform certain functions / ministeries on His behalf.
There is no indication that Jesus regarded these “chosen” ones as superior in any way to the rest of his disciples and followers. Nor is there any indication that those sent out were instructed to Break Bread or perform any “sacraments” apart from healing. Sacraments were a later development.
They certainly didn’t wear clerical dress or either Roman or Gothic vestments and spoke neither English or Latin. And there were no popes, bishops or priests.
When Jesus went away He left a basic Christian community behind Him. Two needs emerged – setting in place the resources needed by the community and the resistance of errors and heresies.
Structure developed. We saw the emergence of leaders/ presbyters and eventually the emergence of episcopi (overseers), presbyters (priests) and deacons.
It seems to me that some of the leaders of early churches were women.
“From the very beginning of the early Christian church, women were important members of the movement, although much of the information in the New Testament on the work of women has been overlooked. Since sources of information stemming from the New Testament church was written and interpreted by men, many assumed that it had been a “man’s church”. Recently, scholars have begun looking in mosaics, frescoes, and inscriptions of that period for information about women’s roles in the early church”.
The early Christian texts refer to various women activists in the early church. One such woman was St. Priscilla, a Jewish missionary from Rome, who may have helped found the Christian community at Corinth. She traveled as a missionary with her husband and St Paul, and tutored the Jewish intellectual Apollos. Others include the four daughters of Philip the Evangelist, from Caesarea, Palestine, who were said to be prophets and to have hosted St Paul in their home. However, some people, including the author of Acts, did not see women as true missionaries or leaders in their own right even though they did perform good acts in the community. Widows for example were recognized as a group in society but were not admitted into the clerical rank. While women did have roles in early Christianity, as Christianity became formalized with sacraments and hierarchization or church office, women’s earlier public roles were restricted and regulated.
THE WASHINGTON POST
“The Virgin Mary was chosen to birth and raise the Son of God. Mary, Martha, Susanna and Mary Magdalene were just a few women who followed Jesus, helped fund his ministry and preached the Gospel. Priscilla, Lydia, Phoebe and Dorcas served as important leaders in the early church. I wish more churches focused on these (and many other) biblical heroines”.
The argument about women priests is one for another day.
A big change happened in the 4th century when the emperor Constantine declared Christianity to be the official religion of the empire. This gave the Church temporal power as well as spiritual power and made hierarchs and clerics people of authority, power and position.
This certainly highlighted the difference and superiority of the clergy over other Church members.
Of course Church doctrine and practice developes and this development is not always a bad thing.
Furthermore, we Catholics believe that God reveals Himself both through Scripture and Tradition.
But to my mind, such Tradition must compliment Scripture and certainly not contradict it.
Jesus never intended bishops and priests to be state officials or to be an arm of any state. Nor did He intend bishops to be vastly rich and powerful medieval rulers.
Jesus did not intend clericalism and the clerical club to emerge as a force in the Church that lorded it over the laity.
He never intended bishops palaces and Downtown Abbey presbyteries.
PRIEST versus CLERIC
An RC priest is two things. He is a priest by Sacrament and a cleric by canon law.
The RCC does not have the power to stop a man being a priest. That is God given.
So when a priest is dismissed he is not dismissed from the priesthood. He is “dismissed from the clerical state”.
The ignorant term “defrocked” is meaningless.
So, our real problem today is with clerics and clericalism.
It is with clerics as a cabal. And this has been based on seeing the priesthood as a profession – like doctors, lawyers etc – and the term man of the cloth.
It has turned disciples into operatives and office holders.
Did Jesus intend the Roman Catholic priesthood as it is today?
The plain answer must be NO!
And that means the priesthood must be thoroughly rethought and reformed.
DEATH OF QUEEN ELIZABETH
I am Irish, not British. I am not a royalist.
But I am genuinely sad to hear of the Queen’s death.
Regardless of our political feelings and our feelings about the history of Britain in Ireland and further afield, we can only admire her dedication to her duty and her vocation.