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THE APOSTOLIC KERYGMA
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles, October 28, 2013
Eph. 2:19-22, Ps. 18, Luke 6:12-19


"And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles" (Luke 6:13).


Today we celebrate the feast of two apostles, Saints Simon and Jude. Jesus called twelve apostles, indicating in this way that he was establishing the new Israel, each apostle representing one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve apostles lived with Jesus in the flesh and saw him risen from the dead. They were witnesses of his resurrection (Acts 1:22). St Paul was also an apostle, although not one of the twelve, for he saw the risen Christ who called him and sent him to be the apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 26:16-18).


The apostles preached the forgiveness of sins and salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ. This was the basic apostolic kerygma or preaching. They preached the vicarious death of Christ, that is, that he died on the cross in punishment for our sins instead of us as our substitute, and that his death and resurrection were necessary for our salvation and were predicted by the prophets. This was the apostolic preaching, upon which our faith is built.


St. Paul, for example, in the synagogue in Thessalonica, "went in, as was his custom, and for three weeks he argued with them from the scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead" (Acts 17:2-3). Defending himself before King Agrippa, St. Paul said, "To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to the people and to the Gentiles" (Acts. 26:22-23).


This is how the apostles preached. They announced the forgiveness of sins and salvation through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 5:30-31; Luke 24:46-48), for "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:3). "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed" (1 Pet. 2:24). By his wounds we are healed because he suffered these wounds while bearing our sins so that God could punish our sins in his flesh on the cross, and thus justly set us free from them, for their price had been paid by him.


The apostles preached that "God was pleased ... through him [Christ] to reconcile to himself all things ... making peace by the blood of his cross. And you ... he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him" (Col. 1:19-22). This reconciliation with God took place "by the blood of his cross" (Col. 1:20), "in his body of flesh by his death" (Col. l:22), for his death propitiated the justice of God (Rom. 3:25), satisfying it by making reparation for our sins, suffering our punishment for them on the cross instead of us, thus placating the divine wrath against us for our sins (Rom. 1:18; 5:9).


The apostles preached the death and resurrection of Christ and called all to repentance to receive through their faith in his death the forgiveness of their sins and salvation. This was the basic outline of the apostolic preaching or kerygma.

 

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