by Fr. Jeff Loseke
When Jesus established the apostolic ministry among His own Apostles, He commanded them to continue His mission of reconciliation in the world. We see this most clearly expressed by Jesus in His appearances to the Apostles after the Resurrection (e.g., Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-49; John 20:21-23). Not only did He command them to preach “repentance, for the forgiveness of sins” (cf. Luke 24:47) but also He gave them a share in His very power so as to effect it. The Apostles, once filled with the Holy Spirit, went out and began building up the Church, the Body of Christ on earth.
Saint Paul reminds us that, “It was he [Christ] who gave some to be apostles… to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God…” (Ephesians 4:11-13). As Jesus’ disciples today, we have benefited from the witness of the Apostles and have been gathered together in virtue of our common baptism. Our mandate is clear: we must be active in “works of service.” Anyone who has heard the Gospel and has been taught how to live as a disciple cannot ignore the prompting of the Spirit to put his or her faith into action. Through our works of charity, we participate with the Apostles in transforming the world and communicating Christ’s presence wherever we go. As agents of Christ in the world, our approach to the world around us ought to be different than that of an unbeliever. The way we conduct our business, participate in our communities, and raise our families ought to show others how Christ Himself would do such things. Living more like Christ will draw us more and more together and overcome the divisions our sins have caused.
As Catholics, we recognize that the apostolic ministry itself has been shared with the Apostles and their successors, the Bishops today, through the laying on of hands and the invocation of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Timothy 1:1-2,6). We are confident that the Apostolic line has remained unbroken for 2,000 years and that Christ’s ministry remains present and active in His Church today. All of us who have benefited from the Apostolic ministry—especially through the preaching of the Word and the reception of the Sacraments—must take up our own part in the Church’s apostolate. Through our works of charity, we reveal to the world that Jesus Christ is indeed risen from the dead and that He desires to draw the whole world to Himself for salvation.
The Reverend Jeffery S. Loseke is a Priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha and is currently the pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Gretna, Nebraska. Ordained in 2000, Fr. Loseke holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) from the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm in Rome and is working to complete his doctoral degree (Ed.D.) in interdisciplinary leadership through Creighton University in Omaha. In addition to parish ministry, Fr. Loseke has served as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force, taught high school theology and college-level philosophy, and has been a presenter for various missions, retreats, and diocesan formation days across the country.
Art: Saint Luke Catholic Church (Danville, Ohio) – tympanum painting – Immaculate Heart, Charity, 2016 (Wikimedia Commons)