THE TRANSMISSION OF DIVINE REVELATION
74 God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth":29 that is, of Christ Jesus.30 Christ must be proclaimed to all nations and individuals, so that this revelation may reach to the ends of the earth:
God graciously arranged that the things he had once revealed for the salvation of all peoples should remain in their entirety, throughout the ages, and be transmitted to all generations.31
This is the reason that His Church is Catholic (Universal).
I. The Apostolic Tradition
75 "Christ the Lord, in whom the entire Revelation of the most high God is summed up, commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel, which had been promised beforehand by the prophets, and which he fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips. In preaching the Gospel, they were to communicate the gifts of God to all men. This Gospel was to be the source of all saving truth and moral discipline."32
The word "Apostle" means "sent ones" so, in the Hierarchy of the Church, the Apostles and their successors, the Bishops, are the main persons who have been sent by Jesus Christ to preach His Good News. All others members of His Church assist them one way or the other, but the Apostles and their successors have the higher authority from Christ to teach about the Gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:28 ).
In the apostolic preaching. . .
76 In keeping with the Lord's command, the Gospel was handed on in two ways:
- orally "by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received - whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit";33
Jesus Christ commanded His Apostles to "go forth and teach all nations" (Matthew 28:19). He didn't specify to write letters or to deliver Bibles, but, without immutable specifics, to "teach all nations". The oral teaching is not only from the lips out, but also by example and way of life.
- in writing "by those apostles and other men associated with the apostles who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing".34
It was later that it was necessary to put into writing the teachings of Christ.
"And so, brothers, stand firm, and hold to the traditions that you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle." - (2 Thessalonians 2:14(15)).
. . . continued in apostolic succession
77 "In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority."
This we can see succession happening when Matthias replaced Judas (Acts 1:12-26). And this is done by imposition of hands (1 Timothy 4:14) (1 Timothy 5:22).
St. Paul tells Titus and Timothy not to be hasty in laying on hands for this particular ministry is not for everyone, he has to be careful and prayerfully discern to whom he transmit this authority.
"The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you.” (Titus 1:5).
“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:1-2).
"Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you." (1 Timothy 4:14).
"Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure." (1 Timothy 5:22).
How do we know that there is an Apostolic Succession? - Since Jesus was going to ascend into Heaven, He left His visible representatives here on earth in order to continue with His preaching (as we saw above). But what happened when the Apostles started dying? - is it the end of it? No. Jesus told the Apostles that He was going to be with them until the end of time (Matthew 28:20), so His visible representatives had to continue, that's why Mathias replaced Judas and St. Paul, Titus, Timothy continued to appoint successors in order to continue with this preaching of the Gospel.
When Jesus said that He was going to be with the Apostles until the "end of age" or "end of time", He did not mean only until a period in this life.
No. Jesus clearly meant end of this world:
“This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous” (Matt 13:49).
Jesus is clearly talking about the Final Judgment at the end of this world with the phrase "end or time" or "end of age".
Indeed, "the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time."36
78 This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, "the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes."37 "The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer."38
Sacred Scripture comes from Sacred Tradition, not the other way around. It was first the Apostolic preaching.
79 The Father's self-communication made through his Word in the Holy Spirit, remains present and active in the Church:
Anyone who says the contrary, that the Church has become totally incorrupt, or dares to say that knows better than Magisterial teachings or puts himself above Her teachings. Let him be anathema (Galatians 1:8 ).
"God, who spoke in the past, continues to converse with the Spouse of his beloved Son. and the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel rings out in the Church - and through her in the world - leads believers to the full truth, and makes the Word of Christ dwell in them in all its richness."39.
The Pope and the body of Bishops in union with the Pope are our Pastors appointed by Christ in order to lead us to our Heavenly Home. Since the Church is Divinely instituted, She is indefectible (Lumen Gentium # 39, n1) (CCC#1108 ).
John 3:27; John 15:5; Matthew 19:26