love the church (eph 5:25)
"I will build <u>My</u> Church." —Matthew 16:18
The Church is founded on the apostles (Eph 2:20; Rv 21:14), especially on Peter, the first Pope, and on Paul, an apostle and the first Christian missionary. Therefore, today's solemn feast day of Saints Peter and Paul is a celebration in which we thank the Lord for His great gift to us of the Church.
The Church is the body of Christ (see e.g. Eph 1:22-23) and the bride of Christ (Eph 5:25-27; Rv 22:17). The Church was founded by Jesus Himself (Mt 16:18). It belongs to Jesus and is in the process of being built by Jesus (Mt 16:18). Jesus calls the Church "My Church." Jesus has given Peter, his successors, and the Church the keys of the kingdom (Mt 16:19). The Church has Jesus' authority to bind and loose and to attack and conquer the gates of hell (Mt 16:18-19). It is "God's household" and "the pillar and bulwark of truth" (1 Tm 3:15).
The Church is "the fullness of Him Who fills the universe in all its parts" (Eph 1:23). Jesus exalts the Church by identifying with her. He proclaims that, if we listen to the Church, we listen to Him (Lk 10:16) and, if we persecute the Church, we persecute Him (Acts 9:4). Considering what the Lord has revealed to us about His Church, we must love the Church as Jesus does and lay down our lives for her (Eph 5:25).
Prayer: Jesus, give me Your heart for the Church. I will accept Your grace to forgive those members of the Church who have hurt me.
Promise: "Peter was thus detained in prison, while the Church prayed fervently to God on his behalf." —Acts 12:5
Praise: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I myself (Paul) am the worst. But on that very account I was dealt with mercifully, so that in me, as an extreme case, Jesus Christ might display all His patience, and that I might become an example to those who would later have faith in Him and gain everlasting life" (1 Tm 1:15-16).
Reference: (For related teaching, order our leaflet, Thankful To Be Catholic.)
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, November 29, 1997
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 2, 1997