By John Larkins
Jesus personally and lovingly built and developed His Church, the New and Everlasting Covenant. For three years, He instructed and clarified “The Way” of saving humans after the disaster of Adam and Eve’s sin. The Old Testament chronicles in detail how the proto- Church was to be built and provides testimony quoted by the Apostles in the directives of the New Testament. While the first collection of writings was done over about 1,000 years, the second was written in about 70 years. Jesus’ bishops (and later, ordained priests) at first taught the Church using Jesus’s verbal teaching from memory. However, it quickly became apparent that they had to write their teachings to spread the truth as they had been directed. As a practical matter, the bishops simply had to develop letters to supplement what they called “tradition” or capture the tradition they had been taught by Jesus and revelation from God. St. Paul, especially, communicated with the new Catholic churches he established as extensions of the home Church in Jerusalem. Jesus put the earthly leadership responsibility squarely on St. Peter and the other 10, quickly expanded to the original number of 12 total apostles).
Jesus delegated sufficient power to these men to do the job as Jesus described it (“I send you as the Father sent me”). Peter was given all the dimensions of delegated power as was traditionally given a king’s chief steward as the keeper of the keys to the kingdom, in that Peter (and all apostolic authority is delegated within the Church), “Whatever you say on earth is heard in heaven,” “you have the power to forgive sins”), the power to preside over the necessary blessings to produce the holy eucharistic sacrifice, Christ’s body and blood, in the form of bread and wine.
The Pope and his bishops had to receive the holy inspiration to understand and provide these “sacraments” that actually dispensed Christ’s saving power. At first, all the Catholic priests and converts were Jews. There were going to be differences in the Church that changed the traditional behavior of Jewish converts, along with tenants that were going to be required of non-Jewish church members.
For example, circumcision, the initial method of demonstrating obedience to God, was now baptism. Just from the human point of view, this change was bound to cause some feelings of alienation. Also, over many years, the dietary laws of what had to be forbidden and accepted were voluminous and a cause for discipline. Now, the Church leaders would hold council and declare that only a few things, such as blood and flesh from sacrificed animals to idols, were not to be eaten.
The whole world after Christ arose to Heaven, and his Church was on its own probably did not seem so different from the day prior. However, the Jews were on the way out. At Christ’s death, a note is included that the curtain in the Temple was torn from top to bottom (the Holy of Holies). That most likely was symbolic that God no longer lived in the Temple. Many Jews did not convert to Christ’s Church. There was an uneasy relationship with the converted Jews, but at least during this time the Catholics were allowed to meet in the Temple. For their worship service of producing and distributing communion, they went to one another’s homes.
The Jews and the Romans, however, remained in deep conflict. In the year 70 A.D., approximately 40 years from this time, the Romans killed about 250,000 Jews and destroyed the Temple. The converted Jews were accused of not being sufficiently supportive to the unconverted Jews, and from then on, the home Church was on thin ice and later moved to Rome. There were always rulers to kill Catholics in Rome, as they did to both Peter and Paul. Of course, by then at least seven Catholic Churches had been developed by Paul and others.
John Larkins was born in Oklahoma to an U.S. Army family. His education was in the Catholic Church and teaching in the United Methodist Church for 10 years. After 50 years of various positions in federal service at home and in Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, John and his wife Carol live in Gadsden. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.