CROSSROADS CRISIS

On this day in 1945, the second atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. Half the city was destroyed and over 70,000 were killed. A day to send forth prayerful energy around the world that nuclear weapons will NEVER be used again for any reason.

Edward Hays
Nagasaki calls for end to nuclear weapons on 75th anniversary of atomic bombing… Click image for full story.

VATICAN CITY DESTROYED BY A NUCLEAR BOMB

AP News release: Today at noon, a small nuclear device exploded, completely destroying Vatican City. The entire 108 acres of historic buildings were leveled by a nuclear blast felt throughout most of Italy. Destruction of a lesser degree extended to a five mile radius around the Holy City. The Catholic world is in shock, and the entire world mourns the loss of the largest church in Christianity, St. Peter’s. Lost forever are the priceless art treasures of Michelangelo, Raphael, da Vinci and other great artists. The entire population of Vatican City, including the pope and other high officials of the Church, together with thousands of tourists and pilgrims who were present at the time are counted among the dead. So far, no terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

This fictional news account gives us a feel for how many Christians would respond to the destruction of the ancient center of our faith. It would be a devastating loss. To consider such and event also gives us a partial insight into the effect of the loss of the great temple in Jerusalem and the leveling to the ground of that city by the Roman army in 70 A.D. It must have been crushing blow to all Jews and to the young Jesus-sect of Judaism, for the temple was at the heart of their faith and worship.

We find the reaction of those early Christian communities to the destruction of the temple in letters written after 70 A.D. With the physical structure gone, they began to understand the words of Jesus about his body being the temple. And being one with him, they recognized that they were part of his body. In the epistle to the Ephesians we find the passage: “You form a building which rises on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, with Christ as the capstone. Through Christ the whole structure is fitted together and takes shape as the holy temple in God; in Christ you are being built into this temple, to become a dwelling place for God” (Eph. 2: 20-21). And in the second letter of St. Peter: “You too are living stones, built as an edifice of the Spirit, into a holy priesthood” (1 Pt. 2: 5).

The destruction of the temple created a crossroads crisis. Without the temple, the Jewish priesthood lacked a place for sacrifice and so disappeared. Now there was a need for a different kind of priesthood among the early Jewish-Christians. Today’s historical crisis of an ever expanding number of Christians along with and even more rapidly decreasing number of ordained clergy among some denominations calls for a similarly creative response from lay people. Today, as never before, everyone must take on the vocation of being “living stones” in the Church. We all must begin to exercise our baptismal priesthood.

Those early disciples of Jesus made their homes into what the great temple had been — a place or prayer and sacrifice. We must do the same. It is time for us also to acknowledge our priesthood in Christ, shared by all who are one in Christ. Today’s crisis, like the destruction of the temple over 1900 years ago, should call forth from us a new sense of personal responsibility within the Church.

And if we are to be more that “dead stones,” we will have to grow in prayer and holiness. This challenge is at the very heart of lay ministry: it must be embraced by all who wish to be a vital art of the Church and to serve in any of her variety of ministries. Yet consider what would happen if only 10% of those who form the Church were to strive to become “living stones,” alive in Christ. Such a hunger for holiness would result in historians recording this as an age of saints unlike any the Church has ever seen in all her twenty centuries.

Edward Hays
Click image for link to “10 Powerful Prayers for Healing and Change”

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