way to work things out together, it wouldn’ t be long before greed and corruption would overshadow the republic. Jay Leno, on the Tonight Show, aired January 9, 2014,

announced that there was a majority of millionaires in the Congress. There is a saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The actual quote, by

John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton (18341902) was Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men. Likened to it

is a quote by William Pitt the Elder, who said, Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it. If there is any genetic landmine in humankind,

it is the inability to wield power without being corrupted by it. This was true for the biggest and smallest of secular kingdoms and empires and also for theocracies;

and it was, as we will now discover, true even for the Catholic Church.

Christianity as an Influence
It is a popular myth, even after the first 200 years since the birth of Jesus that Christianity was large enough of a religion that it competed with other religions of

the time. We read about the famed Nero, who burned Christians to light the streets of Rome, and we immediately feel that the Roman Empire was troubled by the new,

Christian faith system. Christianity was only another of the many religious systems that irritated the imperial office, because it was another demonstration of a lack

of worship of the person on the throne. Nero, like other Caesars who would follow, was paranoid, and perhaps rightly so. The first few centuries After the Common Era

(A.C.E.) were not the most enviable, in terms of equity and fairness in law. Greed and corruption had already acted as a cancer among the rich and privileged,

rendering impotent a legislative body who were only motivated by what they could pocket from the imperial pot of money. A more ruthless force preyed upon early

Christians, even more devastating than Rome. Devotees of Judaism were furious about the upstart Christian sect. We see in the book of Acts of the Apostles (see Bible)

that a Pharisee named Saul, who by the way was a Hebrew legal scholar€”having attended the most prestigious law school in Israel, aggressively pursued those who

followed Jesus Christ€”the person put to death by Rome,

but who was encouraged by the Jews to execute Jesus. Christians (in Greek, Christianos) were followers of Christ: the man called Jesus of Nazareth who did not deny

being Christ the King, the Messiah). The Jews did not agree that their beloved Messiah was the person Jesus. Jesus did not come onto the scene as the regal Lord, but

rather a commoner of no apparent import, even though Jesus’ lineage, according to his mother Mary, could be traced back to King David. Saul, willing to demonstrate his

zeal for his faith, led a band of religious zealots who were devoted to finding all Christians and either killing them or at minimum imprisoning them. And they did

their jobs with great pleasure, because they felt they were pleasing their God when they did so. But the story of Saul, the legal theorist, comes decades after the

death of Jesus. Before Saul, there were others of the Pharisees and the Jewish Sanhedrin who opposed the disciples of Jesus. The Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, an assembly of

legal counselors appointed in every community, thought they had rid themselves of the menace started by Jesus when they had him killed. However, they soon found that

some kind of supernatural power emboldened the followers of Jesus, such that it was reported that they could heal the sick and raise the dead: abilities of Jesus, who

then transferred power to his disciples. Large numbers of Jews were becoming Christians within months of Jesus’ death and apparent resurrection from the dead. Again,

referring to Acts of the Apostles, we see that thousands were being converted to Christianity in a single day, and more were following close behind. One has to wonder

why Christianity was attractive to those who followed a religion that was begun by Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews. Christians claimed to worship the same God. So what

was the difference? Clearly stated, that Christians claimed that Jesus was God and that Jesus had the power to forgive sins, which had only been the purview of God

Himself, was repugnant to Judaism. Even though it appeared that Jesus’ appearance on Earth was foretold by Hebrew prophets, accepted by Judaism, the Jews of the first

century after Jesus’ birth did not accept the Christian claim. Jesus, although showing respect where respect was due, did not mince words when he exposed Pharisaical

behavior (I am not a sinner like you are). Saul claimed to be a Pharisee of the Pharisees, perfect before the law of God. There was no higher praise than that among

the religious elite, even if Saul was

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