In the three years of the Public Ministry of Jesus, He spent many hours on the hot, dusty roads of Palestine – moving from one village to another – so that He could teach the people, heal the sick, and bless the children.  Jesus was on a mission sent by His Father to save humanity through His Passion, Death and Resurrection.  He was to reverse what happened through Original Sin, and re-open the gates of heaven to bring us back to God the Father.  On His three-year journey, He also spent much private time with His Apostles – explaining to them that He was the promised Messiah – the very Son of God – the one the world had been waiting for. 

At the Last Supper, as Jesus was preparing the Apostles for His Death and Resurrection, He told them that He was going away, and they could not come with Him; yet they would see Him again. Thomas spoke up for the Apostles and even for us: “Lord we don’t know where You are going, how can we know the way?”  Jesus replied, as we heard in the Gospel today, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one can come to the Father except through Me.”   

To assure the Apostles and us that Jesus is indeed the Way, the Truth and the Life, He established the Church:

“You are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my Church,
and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
And I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven;
and what you declare bound on earth will be bound in heaven;
and whatever you declare loosed on earth will be loosed in Heaven.
And the Father and I will send the gift of the Holy Spirit to be with you forever.”

When Jesus established the Church, he established it upon Peter the Rock.  He did not establish it as a democracy wherein the members would have the right to vote, to establish policy, change basic teachings, water-down difficult teachings, and develop new teachings. 

Our society says that we can have hope and fulfillment in business, in making money, and in having all of our desires satisfied.  No one is to interfere with our personal freedom to do, think and have whatever we want or desire.  Some of this kind of thinking has infiltrated into the Church.  Some “Dissident Cafeteria Catholics” believe that they should have the right to determine Church policy, Church teaching, Church law, Church Liturgy and Church leadership.  They want their rights without any obligations – accept the obligations they intent to impose on every-body else.       

In the First reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear about life in the Apostolic Church.  The Faith began to spread, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem began to increase. The Holy Spirit guided the Apostles to establish the Ordination of Deacons to help serve the spiritual and material needs of the Christian community.  The early Christians too became aware of their call to bring Jesus Christ to the world.  By word and example, they lived their Faith so that many other were attracted to it.  Thus Saint Peter, the first Pope wrote:

“We are living stones built into the Church.  You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a consecrated nation – a people God claims as His own.” 

It follows from these words that we – you and I together are the Church.  We have the responsibility not only to a more active participation in the work of Jesus Christ and His Church, but also to accept and believe the teachings of Jesus Christ as He gave them to us, and as they have been preserved and taught – unchanged through the centuries.  We are called upon to build up the Body of Christ – not to tear it down.

With the election of Pope Francis, the Holy Spirit has chosen the 266th successor to St. Peter.  The former Cardinal Badoglio from Brazil, is a humble, holy man who loves the Church with all his heart, all his soul and all his being.  He is a man who prays to God, is led by God, and who loves God above all things.  An outstanding theologian, He has always been an uncompromising defender of the doctrine of the Church.  Francis the “Cornerstone, chosen and precious stone” spoken of by St. Peter in the second reading.  

To remain on the right path – to remain in union with the Church, we must hear the voice of Jesus our Good Shepherd, and we must hear the voice of the Shepherd He has chosen to lead the Church in this particular time in history – to hear his voice over the voices of all the others who have dissented from the fullness of the truth, and we are called to respect him.