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Roman Catholicism GERALD GROVELAND WALSH As nearly as critical scholarship has determined the date, it would seem to have been in the early summer of the year we now call 27 A.D. that Jesus of Nazareth "came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God" (Mark 1: 14). The "kingdom," in the first account that Jesus gave of it, was pictured as a fulfillment and a promise: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand"; and two conditions were imposed on all who sought to share in it: "Repent and believe" (Mark 1: 15). For the first six months of His preaching, Jesus stressed the first condition only—repentance, change of heart, moral renewal, personal perfection. "Come, follow me" (Matthew 4: 19), He said. "Blessed are the poor in spirit . . . the meek . . . the merciful . . . the pure of heart . . . the peacemakers . . . they who suffer persecution for justice's sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5: 3-10). Only later did Jesus enunciate what we would now call the great paradox of Christianity: "He who loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matt. 16: 24). For some, the kingdom became a special call, beyond the ordinary power of human nature to accept. A young man who had been faithful to all the Commandments of the old Law wanted to "gain eternal life." He was invited to sell all he had, and give to the poor, and be content with "treasure in heaven," and come follow Jesus. "But his face fell at the saying, and he went away sad" (Mark 10: 22). For others, the kingdom would be a call not merely to poverty but to the more difficult renunciation involved in voluntary celibacy. "There are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the kingdom of heaven's sake. Let him accept it who can" (Matt. 19: 12). But before Jesus fully revealed His Way as a Way of the Cross, He began to speak of a second main aspect of His kingdom . It was a gospel of Truth, a faith, a mystery to be known; 307 ROMAN CATHOLICISM not merely a call to the will but a challenge to the mind. "To you," Jesus said to His followers, "is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God" (Mark 4: 11). And just as His Way led up to higher and higher peaks of moral and superhuman perfection, so His Truth reached down to deeper and deeper levels of spiritual and supernatural mystery. Jesus asked His followers to believe in things that would not happen until the end of the world when, for example, there would appear "the sign of the Son of Man in heaven . . . and they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven with great power and majesty; and . . . his angels . . . will gather his elect . . . from the uttermost parts of the earth to the uttermost parts of heaven" (Matt. 24: 30, 31, with Mark 13: 27). He spoke more mysteriously still when he said: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him" (John 6: 56). Many of Jesus' disciples, when they heard this, complained, saying: "This is a hard saying. Who can listen to it ?" And, like the young man who "went away sad," some of them "turned back and no longer went about with" Jesus (John 6: 66). In spite of these defections, the number of those who walked in the Way and accepted the Truth of Jesus continued to increase ; and the kingdom began to show itself, in its third aspect, as a community, an organized society of men and women living the way and the truth. The kingdom was thus not only a code and a creed but a Church. Jesus, in fact, constituted a rudimentary hierarchy.Twelve men were chosen and commissioned with special powers; and seventy-two were sent to preach in His name. When one of the Twelve, Simon, openly confessed his full faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah, saying "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus appointed him to a very special position in the hierarchy of the kingdom: "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, but my Father in heaven. And I say to thee that thou art Peter [Kepha] and upon this rock [kepha in Aramaic, the language which Jesus spoke...


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