The Catholic Defender: We are to Imitate the Way of the Apostles
November 4, 2016
"Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us. For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.” Their minds are occupied with earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified Body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, beloved. PHIL 3:17—4:1
Jesus Christ established the Catholic Faith commissioning it to go to all the Nations to Baptize them and to teach them all that he commanded them to teach. The Catholic Church has done so for nearly 2,000 year and will continue to do so until the Lord returns.
Acts 9:2-3 reminds us what St. Paul, then known as Saul once thought of the Church, "But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem."
Despite St. Paul's dedication as a Pharisee, he would soon come to understand who Jesus Christ is and many today find themselves fighting the Way of the Apostles. Once St. Paul was shown the Truth of the Catholic Faith, he was able to see, Jesus chose him to follow Him. Acts 9:3-19
There is so much to the biblical text on this subject, that we are to imitate the Apostolic teaching. The challenge is to see how the truth of God has been handed down so that we have this great truth today. Here are just a small sample of what the Church has said in the beginning:
St. Paul writes, “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).
"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us” (2 Thessalonians 6:6-7).
Hebrews 13:7 echos St. Paul's teaching, "Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith."
Much of St. Paul’s letters speak to the Church following the Apostles teaching.
So many times I talk to some of my Non-Catholic friends and they will have issues with Tradition. Here are some early Church Fathers who wrote on the subject:
Ignatius of Antioch
Follow your bishop, every one of you, as obediently as Jesus Christ followed the Father. Obey your clergy too as you would the apostles; give your deacons the same reverence that you would to a command of God. Make sure that no step affecting the Church is ever taken by anyone without the bishop’s sanction. The sole Eucharist you should consider valid is one that is celebrated by the bishop himself, or by some person authorized by him. Where the bishop is to be seen, there let all his people be; just as, wherever Jesus Christ is present, there is the Catholic Church (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]).
In like manner let everyone respect the deacons as they would respect Jesus Christ, and just as they respect the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and college of the apostles. Without these, it cannot be called a Church. I am confident that you accept this, for I have received the exemplar of your love and have it with me in the person of your bishop. His very demeanor is a great lesson and his meekness is his strength. I believe that even the godless do respect him (Letter to the Trallians 3:1-2 [A. D. 110]).
The Martyrdom of Polycarp
When finally he concluded his prayer, after remembering all who had at any time come his way – small folk and great folk, distinguished and undistinguished, and the whole Catholic Church throughout the world – the time for departure came. So they placed him on an ass, and brought him into the city on a great Sabbath (The Martyrdom of Polycarp 8 [A.D. 110]).
The Catholic Church possesses one and the same faith throughout the whole world, as we have already said (Against Heresies 1:10 [A.D. 189]).
In following the Gospel Message, we are to keep faith with the Lord's Representatives. Some people might see them as the middle man, but it is their example we are to follow in line of the Faith. Ephesians 3:1 St. Paul writes, "For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles-- assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly." Ephesians 3:1-3
St. Paul was made an Apostle for our benefit, not for his own ego, every Catholic priest has been called to serve in this capacity for the people of God (Revelation 5:10). It is the order, the office which we are to hold fast to, the office Jesus established through His Apostles (1 Timothy 4:11-16)