by John Pacheco
In the fullness of time, God sent His only begotten Son to redeem the world and offer man everlasting life. He came as a Son of Israel to set Israel free, but Israel would not have Him. He did not speak like the Scribes. He spoke with authority and conviction. He offered mercy and love to the penitent but brought wrath and judgment on those who made a pretense of religion.
From His Blessed lips fell truth and justice, consolation and victory, forgiveness and redemption. His voice liberated the oppressed while His Sacred spittle made men see. Through His tongue, men heard the Words of God. The Word of the Father, Himself, was standing before them. Ece Homo - the Man - born of a woman and incarnated in Mary's womb. His words penetrated their ears, illuminating their minds and conquering their hearts.
In His magnificent benevolence, He offered salvation to all. But not all would accept Him. His Words were a sword which divided a nation and placed brother against brother and father against son. The sound of His voice meant life and death - life to those who would accept His Holy Gospel and death to those who rejected it.
The Word of God was a Man who spoke. And when He spoke, His adversaries were convicted because His Word was truth itself - to which there could be no appeal. For three years of His public ministry, He wrote nothing down but His teachings and warnings were binding on the populace who heard them. He told them how to get to heaven, and why they should avoid hell. He called God His Father while calling out the sons of the Devil. He pulled down the proud and lifted up the humble. He warned the rich and consoled the poor. And these spoken Words were binding on the consciences of men. The Gospel came from the mouth of a Man, and man had to believe if He wanted to live forever.
His time was short. He chose unlearned men to do what He was doing: preach His Holy Gospel to all of the world. And this, they did. They preached the Word of God to Jew and Gentile, and their speech was the inspired Word of God itself. God was the author of their words. And so the Word of Jesus Christ came first through the mouths of men. And to these words, men were compelled to bend their knees and submit to their solemn teachings.
An Apostle preaches the Gospel in a town. The crowd receives the teaching and understands it. Joy. Anger. Betrayal. Vindication. A decision must be made. Do they accept the Word? Yes or no? They examine the Scriptures, but this is new revelation. What do they do? Most of them reject the Word. Some accept it. How do they accept it? They accept it through the mouth of a man.
For over a dozen years, the Apostles preach and the Church grows. Inspired Apostolic preaching brings thousands into the Church every day. All because of the oral testimony of men chosen by God to speak His holy word in Truth and with full authority. Nothing is written. Oral preaching is sufficient for the day. Inspired, Inerrant, Infallible. But there is a disturbance in a church far away. The Apostle writes a letter to the church, exhorting them to repentance over their scandalous behaviour. The other churches know nothing about it and will know nothing about it for years. Life goes on. The Church grows exponentially. No worries. God has chosen a few good men to preserve his Gospel. Very little is written. The complete Gospel is not inscripted. It won't be for decades. It's in the mouths of men appointed by God.
But the Apostles will not live forever. They will get old. They will die. What of the Church? Who will lead them? Who will preach the Gospel? Mathias will. Timothy will. And others chosen by the Apostles. They will stand firm on the oral and written traditions passed down to them by the Apostles. The successors are to hold fast to both. From these sources, there is formed one sacred deposit of revelation. If there is a disturbance in Ephesus, Timothy will decide the matter in conference with the other brethren. He has been entrusted with the Gospel. There is no "New Testament" bible for the sophisticators and wranglers and perverters to mangle yet. The gospel is in the mouth of Timothy and no other. There are perverts expounding other gospels, but only the self-deceivers and unstable accept their testimony. Timothy looses and binds. St. Paul has said so. That's it; that's all. As it has always been, the Gospel is about authority. "By what authority do you do such things?", the Scribes once asked. Opinions are like prostitutes and bastards. Only fools listen to them when legitimacy speaks. And legitimacy still speaks today.
Timothy will do what St. Paul told him to do: "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." (2 Tim 2:2) He will confer apostolic authority on others to lead the Church and he will insist that they hold firm to what he has been taught by St. Paul and the Apostles. There is no room for the schismatic and heretic here. Those who seek to divide what the Holy Spirit has bound. Get out! You brood of vipers! The Church will stand firm on Apostolic tradition. There is no salvation other than by the name of Jesus Christ just as there is no salvation outside of this Church. This is a difficult teaching. Who can accept it?
Our tradition has always been thus. When the Gospel was preached, we believed and we accepted it on the oral testimony of men chosen by God. This was true in 33 A.D. and it is true in 2003 A.D. We did not demand inscripturation (much less canonization) before we believed in the inspired message. If we did, we would be dead a half-a-dozen times over, waiting like blind and wicked scribes in order to pit the Scriptures against the Man of God. No. We heard Ignatius' Apostolic teaching and we bent our knees accordingly. This is our Tradition. And this Tradition has been with us since Our Lord spoke his first public word to an unbelieving world. The Word of God resided in the mouth of the Man from Nazareth. It rested on the tongues of the Apostles and it remains preserved by the preaching of their successors in the house of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.
Our Catholic and Apostolic tradition was first audible before it was visible - if only our opponents were able to hear as well as they claim they see.
The Catholic Legate
May 20, 2003