Skip to comments.Set Your House in Order (in four easy steps).
Posted on 04/03/2014 2:37:00 AM PDT by markomalley
Theres a Gospel song written back in the 1950s called Jesus Hits Like an Atom Bomb! It is a warning to be prepared for death. Here are a few of the lyrics:
Every bodys worried bout that Atom Bomb. No one seems worried about the Day my Lord shall come! Better set your house in order, He may be coming soon, and Hell hit like an Atom Bomb when He comes!
Playful yet clear. But what does it mean to set your house in order? If were not careful we might come up with a long list of things to which we should attend. A long list might tend to overwhelm and be difficult to remember.
Perhaps this why Scripture gives a clear four-point plan that seems to well describe the Christian life. It is found in Acts 2. Peter has just preached a sermon where he warns his listeners to repent and believe the Good News. He said to them: Save yourselves from this corrupt generation. Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (Acts 2:40-41). Now they are baptized and in the Church of the Living of God. (Notice too, that the verse does not say they said the sinners prayer to be saved, it says they were baptized). And unlike some of our Protestant brethren who hold a kind of once saved, always saved mentality, the text does not stop there. These new disciples now have a life to lead that will help them be ready to meet God, that will help them to set their house in order. And so in the very next verse we read:
They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42)
So here is our four-point plan for setting our house in order once we have come to faith. There are four components listed below, four pillars if you will. Please note that the text says that they devoted themselves to these four pillars of the Christian life. They did not merely do them occasionally, or when they felt like it, or when the time seemed right. They were consistent, they were devoted to this four-fold rule of life. Lets look at each pillar in turn as we consider how to set our house in order:
I. The Apostles Teaching- This first pillar of the Christian life is fascinating not only for what it says but also what it does not say. When we think of the Apostles Teaching we first think of the four Gospels and the the New Testament Epistles. And these would surely be true components of the Apostles teaching for a modern Christian. But notice that the text does not say that they devoted themselves to Scripture, but rather to the Apostles Teaching.
For a Catholic, the Apostolic Teaching consists not only in the New Testament Scriptures but also the Sacred Tradition which comes to us from the Apostles and which has been understood and articulated by the living Magisterium of the Church. The Protestants would largely interpret this first pillar as an exhortation to read our Bible every day and base our lives on it. This is a true understanding but only partial. The early Christians as you recall did not have the New Testament in final form from day one and could not have lived this text in such as way. The Bible as we now have it was not yet completed edited or canonized. Yet they had received the Apostolic teaching through having it preached to them by the Apostles and their deputed representatives, the bishops, priests and deacons.
St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess 2:15). Therefore the Catholic application of this first pillar is truer and fuller wherein we are devoted to the Apostles teaching not in Scripture alone but also in Sacred Tradition as passed down and interpreted by the living magisterium of the Church.
To live this first pillar with devotion means to set our house in order by carefully and diligently studying what the apostles handed on to us. We do this by the daily and devoted reading of Scripture and/or the diligent study of the faith through the Catechism or other approved manuals. We should make it a daily habit that we are reading scripture and studying the faith, attempting to grow in our knowledge of what God has revealed through his prophets and apostles and then basing our life on what we learn and repenting of what is not in line with the revealed truth. Pillar number 1 is being devoted to the Apostles teaching.
II. The Fellowship the word fellowship may be a little weak here as a translation of the Greek: t? ???????? (te koinonia). Most people who hear the word fellowship think of coffee and doughnuts after Mass. But the more theological or sacred way of translating this word is probably a communion. The sacred gathering of the faithful is better termed a communion. or in Latin communio. It is a gathering into one of the members of Christs Body the Church, a communion also of Christ with his Bride the Church.
The early Christians, according to this text devoted themselves to this communal gathering. Hence the second pillar of the Christian life whereby we are helped to get our house in order is fellowship, or better, communio.
The Commandment is clear: Keep holy the Sabbath. It doesnt make sense to think that we can disregard one of the Ten Commandments and then claim our house is in order. Some argue that this commandment does not say explicitly that we should be in Church on Sunday. But Leviticus 23:3 says regarding this Commandment, You shall do no work and you shall keep sacred assembly, it is the Sabbath of the Lord. Sacred assembly means Church it is the fellowship, the koinonia, the communio. No way around it. God expects us to be in his house on our Sabbath which is Sunday. The Book of Hebrews also says, And let us not neglect to meet together regularly and to encourage one another, all the more since the Day draws near. See here how the Last Day and being prepared for it is linked to meeting together regularly.
So the second pillar of the Christian life is to get our house in order by getting to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day. In the Mass we both encourage others and are encouraged by them. We also receive instruction in the Word of God by the anointed and deputed ministers of that Word, the bishops, priests and deacons. We also fulfill the third pillar to which we now turn our attention.
III. The Breaking of the Bread The phrase the breaking of the bread in the New Testament usually meant the reception of Holy Communion, or the Eucharist.
The worthy reception of Holy Communion is directly connected to having our House in Order for there are wonderful promises made to those who are faithful in this regard. Jesus makes a promise in John 6:40 that Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I will raise him up on the last day. Thats quite a promise in terms of being ready! Jesus is saying that frequent reception of the Eucharist is essential preparation for the Last Day. Jesus also warns us not to stay away from the breaking of the bread or Holy communion: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in you (Jn 6:53).
Without Holy Communion were not going to make it. Gotta receive regularly to be ready! We cannot claim that our house is in order if we willfully stay away from Holy Communion.
By extension we must allow this reference to one sacrament (Holy Communion) to be a reference to all the Sacraments. Clearly a Catholic approach to this third pillar of preparation would include being baptized and confirmed. It would include weekly reception of Holy Communion, regular confession, anointing of the sick when necessary, and, where possible, the reception of Holy Matrimony or Holy Orders.
The Sacraments are our spiritual medicine. We have a bad condition called concupiscence (a strong inclination to sin). It is like spiritual high blood pressure or diabetes. Hence we have to take our medicine and be properly nourished. The sacraments, as our medicine help us to avoid dying from our sinful condition. So the Third pillar of the Christian life is to get our house in order by receiving Holy Communion worthily every Sunday and the other Sacraments at proper times.
IV. Prayer- This final pillar requires more of us than just saying our prayers in some sort of ritual sense. The Greek word here is p??se??a?? (Proseuchais) and is best translated just as we have it here: Prayers However the Greek root proseuche is from pros = toward or immediately before + euchomai= to pray or vow. But the prefix pros would convey the sense of being immediately before Him. And hence, the ideas of adoration, devotion, and worship are included.
So prayer is understood more than just verbally uttering or saying ones prayers. What is called for is worshipful, attentive and adoring prayer. Prayer is experiencing Gods presence. Jesus says of prayer that it is necessary for us lest we fall: Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation (Matt 26:41). Hence the fourth pillar is prayer whereby we putt our house in order through regular, worshipful, attentive and adoring prayer of God which serves as a kind of medicine lest we fall deeply into temptation.
So here are four basic pillars of preparation for the day of Judgment. Follow them and even if Jesus hits like an atom bomb youll look up and be ready and know that your redemption is at hand.
Enjoy this video. Observe in it all the readiness preparations for the nuclear bombs that some of us who are older may remember. In a way all the preparations you see in the video are a little silly since diving under a desk wouldnt help much if an atom bomb really hit! But the preparations I have mentioned above ARE helpful since God gives them to us. If the people in this video were getting ready with measures that probably wouldnt help much, how much more so for us who DO stand a chance since God himself instructs us! Set your house in order!
Msgr Pope ping
Better to be at ground zero than at the vaporization periphery.
The sacraments are a blessing.
In the words of the Apostles, in Paul’s words in his letters and in Jesus’s own words,
it was made clear that He was returning during the lifetimes of the Apostles.
Two thousand years later, we’re still waiting.
http://www.patburt.com/ For such a time as this.
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