To complete the homework please watch the video, read the lesson, and fill out the form at the bottom of this page. Thank you!
1. Have you ever been asked if you are 'saved'? In the video we heard how sin has separated God's family and that all of us are hurt by sin. Now we want to take a look at God's response to our sin. The first thing to remember is that God desires that all of us be saved (John 3:16). So when God looks down on us, He thinks in family terms, not just individual terms. His plan of salvation is directed to each human being through the rebuilding of His people, or family (Hebrews 8:8-10).
2. What has God done to rebuild His broken family? God established covenants throughout history to progressively (slowly) regather His family, as seen in the major covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David, and perfected in Jesus. The Old Testament covenants mark the key points in the history of Israel. The covenants of the Old Testament are temporary and prepare us for the eternal Covenant with Jesus. God established the covenants slowly over time to prepare us, give us the foundations, upon which we could have a covenant relationship with Christ. (Matthew 5:17) The everlasting covenant with Jesus is a world-wide, or universal (catholic) covenant designed to gather all people into God's family. It supersedes all previous covenants and is meant for all people of all times and places. (Luke 22:19-20; Hebrews 8:13, Romans 1:16.)
3. Every major covenant in the Bible has certain similar characteristics. A covenant forms a sacred family bond with God and His people through:
- Swearing an oath, in which one asks God for help in keeping the covenant;
- Enacting a ritual, which puts into actions the words of the covenant;
- Each biblical covenant established a series of relationships between God, the covenant mediator, and the people represented by the mediator. On the people's part, the covenant requires faithfulness to the covenant's terms. This brings forth blessings, while breaking the covenant brings separation from God.
4. This means that you and I have a responsibility not only to God, but to each member of God's covenant family as our brothers and sisters. The concept of God's family is so important to the Catholic Faith that it literally touches every aspect of Catholic life, including her teachings, sacraments and morality.
5. The Catechism says, "It pleased God, in his goodness and wisdom, to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will. His will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit, and thus become sharers in the divine nature." (CCC 51)
6. Revelation communicates God’s desire for intimacy with each one of us. He wants us to overcome sin and grow in holiness. In order to do this, we have to know the plan He has given each one of us, and all of humanity. As a result, God communicates to us through Revelation, God’s unveiling of Himself to us. He has done this communication slowly over time, giving us a chance to best internalize His will for us. Revelation is not about information for information sake: At the heart of God’s Revelation is a person, Jesus Christ. Now that we understand that God communicates to us out of love, we can look at ‘how’ He communicates to us. A question that we must address is “how can we know that our Faith, the teachings of Christ through the Church, are accurate are reliable?”
7. While there are many ways God can communicate to each of us (as through nature, individual prayer, or other people), God communicates to us most clearly by sharing His plan for us in the Revelation He gave the Church. While we will be spending time looking at Jesus in this program, Who He is and what He taught, we have to first be clear on how we know about Him. Since the days of the Apostles, the Church has recognized that there are three ‘sources’ we go to in order to learn about God’s plan for our lives. This knowledge comes through the sources of Scripture, Tradition and the teaching authority of the Church, called the magisterium. Let’s look at each of these sources individually.
8. Scripture, or the Bible, refers to God’s written word to us. The Bible contains God’s plan of salvation for all people. It is written by God Himself, and is a supernatural book. Yet to write these books, God used human authors and their full abilities. The Scriptures are thus a production of God and human beings working together. Just as Jesus came to us by taking on human flesh, so God has also come to us in an extraordinary way through the writing of Sacred Scripture. Their primary purpose is to communicate God’s plan to us, culminating with the teachings, passion, death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus. While the Scriptures tell us about events that happened in the past, we know that, because God is their author, God speaks to us directly through the Scriptures, communicating His love to each one of us through them.
9. The second source of God’s Revelation that the Church teaches us is referred to as Tradition. Tradition includes the teachings of the Church, her prayer life (especially the liturgical/public prayer) and the customs of the Church. As Catholics, we believe that the Tradition of the Church should be treated with the same respect as the Scriptures themselves. Many non-Catholic Christians say that it is wrong to have ‘Tradition’ in the Church because we should follow the Bible alone. Yet every Christian church, whether Catholic or protestant, has a tradition, that is, a body of teaching and a way of worshipping God. Every mainline Christian church tries to base their teachings and customs on how they read the Scriptures, yet they end out doing exactly what the Catholic Church does, establishing a Tradition that brings the word of God alive to every generation. So what makes the Catholic Church’s Tradition different than any other Christian denomination?
10. Since every Christian church has some form of ‘tradition’, the issue becomes which church has the authority to authentically establish the Church’s Tradition in the name of Jesus. This leads us to our third source of God’s Revelation, the magisterium of the Church. The magisterium (from a latin word meaning ‘to teach’) refers to the gift given by the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and their successors, the bishops in union with the Pope. The purpose of this gift is to give them the authority to teach in the name of Christ. Looking at Matthew 28:18-20, Christ gave the 11 Apostles (remember Judas had committed suicide) the authority to teach on His behalf. This authority was not given to every Christian, but only to those called to the ministry of the Apostles. This gift lives on today in the Pope and the bishops united with the Pope, giving them the authority to accurately pass on Christ’s teachings to the faithful. Had Christ not given them this authority, Christians would suffer from spiritual anarchy, every man for himself. Because of these three sources of Revelation, we can know with certainty God’s plan and will for our lives. Knowing God’s plan for us is not a guessing game. We can have full confidence in God’s will for us, and follow the teachings of the Church because they are from Christ Himself.