Last Sunday, 30 July, the Richmond Catholic Parish celebrated the 150th Anniversary since the foundation stone of St Ignatius’ Church was laid in 1867. The reflection today looks at the foundations of the Catholic Church and the people of God…
Rock is made up of solid mineral substance. It is a hard and compact material. It is a good material for building construction. Jesus used the word ‘rock’ to describe the Church’s foundation:
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Mt 16:18)
We know about how the Catholic Church started and of the people behind the scenes who suffered a lot through persecution and who had a great work full of high hopes for the growing Church. The twelve apostles chosen by Jesus, and also some women, fearlessly followed Christ. They kept their faith going strong for the love of Christ and the Church. These disciples of the Lord were ordinary, simple, hard-working people. They were also hard-headed and ambitious people. They were the strong pillars of the Church. Above all, what makes the Church strong to this day is Christ Himself – the Head and the one who initiated the Church.
Christ is the solid foundation, His words of teaching, good deeds and His love for us. Together with the apostles, with our own weaknesses, limitations, and stubbornness, Christ still trusts us and each and every Church leader. Yes, the Church still continues to stand and grow even in the midst of persecutions that were present back then and up to the present moment.
This Church that we speak of is composed of saints, sinners and martyrs. We, as members of this family of God, His Church, hold onto our faith, believing that His grace is enough to sustain us to persevere to the end, still keeping us alive as faithful witnesses of Christ’s love, mercy and compassion. For thousands of years since the time of Jesus Christ and the apostles, the Church has continued to be persecuted, just as Christ Himself and others were persecuted and later put to death. The blood of many martyr saints and the faithful has been shed yet the Church keeps going strong.
Throughout history, there have been some church buildings that have been demolished, have collapsed, or some sacred items within a Church that have been destroyed. There have been many people who have died due to natural calamities and man-made destruction. Even with all of this, people continue to give praise and thanksgiving; they show and defend their faith in God because they cannot put down the doctrine and Word of God, they cannot stop their belief in God. Why is this? We see that the love of God is already in the hearts of people such that no matter what may happen in their lives or to their Church, their faith in God is as solid as a rock.
The understanding of the Church is that it is not about being a big or small building – more importantly, it is the fact that it is composed of people. It is the people who are the Church because without people, the Church will not exist.
Let us thank Jesus for keeping us united in His love, giving us the grace of perseverance to continue sharing the faith and for bringing us together as one family in the Church of God.