The Church: Stronger than Heaven

And Jesus said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath; so the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath.”  (Mark 2:27)

St. John Chrysostom reasons that although our Lord Jesus Christ said heaven would pass away, in saying His word would endure for ever, he was proclaiming the Church as the witness to and bearer of the word of God to be stronger than heaven itself.  Heaven exists for the Church, the Church doesn’t exist for heaven.

“The Church is placed on earth but its life is lived in heaven?   How does this emerge?

The facts give clear proof: eleven disciples were under attack, and the whole world did the attacking; but those attacked had the victory, and attackers were done away with. The sheep prevailed over the wolves: do you see the shepherd sending the sheep amidst the wolves so that they would not achieve salvation even by flight? What sort of shepherd does this? Christ did it, however, to show you that good deeds are done not in the normal course of events but in defiance of nature and normal events.

The Church’s roots, in fact, are stronger than heaven.

But perhaps the Greek charges me with arrogance: let him await factual proof and learn the force of the truth, how the sun would more easily be snuffed out than the Church disappear. Who proclaims this, you ask? Its founder:

‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.’

Instead of simply making this promise, he actually brought it to fulfillment; after all, why did he give it a firm foundation than heaven?

The Church, you see, is more important than heaven.

For what reason does heaven exist? For the Church, not the Church for heaven. Heaven is for the human being, not the human being for heaven. This is clear from what he actually did: Christ did not take up a heavenly body.” (Old Testament Homilies, Vol. 2, pp 82-83)

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