BEFORE THE CROSS | Extending the mission of Jesus

Before the Cross - Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's Column

LISA JOHNSTON | lisajohnston@archstl.org

In addition to the healing carried out by Jesus Himself, the Gospels also testify that Jesus shared His healing mission with the Apostles. Each of the Synoptic Gospels affirms how Jesus made His power to heal body and soul present to the world through the Apostles:

"Then He summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. ... 'Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons'" (Matthew 10:1,8).

"He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. ... They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them" (Mark 6:7, 13).

"He summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and He sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal (the sick). Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere" (Luke 9:1-2,6).

In these accounts, Jesus empowered the Apostles to carry out acts that He Himself had performed: the healing of unclean spirits and the healing of ailing bodies. This was the first installment or foretaste of the commissioning they received in full measure at Pentecost.

From the beginning, the mission of the Twelve was an extension of the healing mission of Jesus Himself. And just as His physical presence made a difference in the lives of those He touched, so their physical presence made a difference as well.

The Gospel of Matthew clearly indicates that Jesus' intention to share His healing mission with the Apostles included the ministry of forgiving sins.

"I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew. 16:19).

"Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 18:18).

These words are fulfilled in the Gospel of John: "Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.' And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained'" (John 20:21-3).

Each Gospel tells us that Jesus extended his healing mission -- including the forgiveness of sins -- through the Apostles. And just as His presence made a real difference in people's lives, so did theirs. That has implications for our need to be physically present at the Sacrament of Penance.

Do we believe that Jesus Himself healed body and soul, but forget that His healing mission was granted to the Apostles? Likewise, do we believe that Jesus Himself forgave sins, but stay away from the Sacrament of Penance because we don't believe that He gave the Apostles the power to forgive sins in his name? Let your heart be converted by the Gospels: Jesus gave His healing mission -- including the forgiveness of sins -- to the Apostles and, through them, to the Apostolic Church descended from them. Believing this, let us be drawn to the Sacrament of Penance as a sacrament of healing, a sacrament in which the healing and forgiving power of Jesus Himself is extended to us through the ministry of the Apostolic Church.

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's Calendar

Friday, Nov. 14

2:30 p.m. Installation of J. Michael Pressimone as president of Fontbonne University in the Dunham Student Activity Center

Saturday, Nov. 15

1:30 p.m. Rite of Confirmation at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

6 p.m. Mass for 50th anniversary of the Newman Center at University of Missouri-St. Louis

Sunday, Nov. 16

2:30 p.m. Mass for 30th anniversary of the St. Patrick Center casserole program at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis 

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