View all Finding the Plug | November 18, 2017
PREFACE II OF THE APOSTLES
This preface is used in Masses for Apostles and Evangelists.
The apostolic foundation and witness
One of the reasons we say the Church is Apostolic is because she is built on the foundation of the apostles, with Our Lord as the cornerstone (see Ephesians 2:20). When you lay the foundation for a building it is not something you remove upon the completion of construction; it supports the whole structure for as long as the structure endures, and can even exist well beyond it.
Our Lord said Peter was the rock on which he would build his Church (see Matthew 16:16-19). “Peter” (Πέτρος, Petros) is literally derived from the Greek word for “rock” that Our Lord used in this passage: (τῇ πέτρᾳ, petra), and Paul at times refers to him as “Cephas,” which is Aramaic for “rock.”
The Apostles are an irreplaceable, structural part of the Church because they are faithful witnesses giving testimony about Our Lord. This preface is also used in Masses for Evangelists because each Gospel is a written testimony by either an Apostle (St. Matthew, St. John “the Evangelist”) or someone who worked closely with one (St. Mark was thought to be a secretary of St. Peter, and St. Luke was close to St. Paul and probably travelled with him).
An apostle, yesterday, today, and forever, is a witness to Our Lord. Throughout salvation history, the witnesses to faith have multiplied. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews, addressing a tired Christian community, encouraged them to consider the “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) whose faith had kept them on track, recalling all the Old Testament’s heroic believers in Hebrews 11 and the example of Christ himself. The witness of our apostolic forefathers is what must encourage us as well to be faithful witnesses to Christ.
“For you have built your Church to stand firm on apostolic foundations, to be a lasting sign of your holiness on earth and offer all humanity your heavenly teaching.”
Our Lord was clear about the need to build a structure on a firm foundation and withstand whatever storms may come (see Matthew 7:24-27). Peter was, and is, that rock, as well as the Apostles and Christ himself (see Ephesians 2:20). The endurance of the Church through history, despite the storms that have afflicting her, shows she is built on a firm foundation. The Church has not endured due to her size, material resources, or any other simply human criteria. She has endured because she has striven to be faithful to what the Lord taught his apostles and to what the Lord taught us through them.
What unites her throughout the world and history, whether in a small mountain chapel in rural Mexico or a magnificent Roman basilica, whether loved by believers and people of good will or persecuted by her (and Christ’s) enemies, is being a community and communion of disciples, learning from Our Lord through the Apostles and Evangelists. Let’s continue to follow Our Lord’s teaching and share it, and him, with the world, just as the Apostles did.