Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Handing on what we received

Many, even Catholics, can make the mistake of thinking that some other Christian groups are more biblical in their approach. In fact, we have maintained the structure which we see reflected in the Acts of the Apostles to this day.

Today's first reading tells us how the Apostles travelled from city to city preaching, in each city the appointed elders(πρεσβυτέρους) in each church ( ἐκκλησίαν), a presbyter in each ecclesia. It would be this presbyter who would pastor the local community while the apostles continued on with their mission.

While we more often refer to this role in English as priest, in fact May 13, 1989 I was ordained a presbyter. Spanish still uses the term presbítero and calls the Church iglesia, a bit closer to the Greek.

It is worth noting in the Acts of the Apostles, that no presbyter calls or appoints himself nor is it a popularity contest where the members of the local church pick their leader. The presbyter is appointed "for them." And yes, while I know this will raise the hackles of some, only men were chosen. And anyone who tells you why this is so, is simply making it up. We do not know why. Perhaps when I get to heaven I will ask Paul or Barnabas.

For now the Bishop, successor the apostles, appoints the presbyter to pastor/shepherd the local church. We trust that the Holy Spirit continues to guide the process.

For anyone who thinks we would be better off if we abandoned the scriptures, and let the people in the church freely elect whoever they want, I would simply say, look how well Washington works. I think I will stick with the inspired word of God.