We, the people of the Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay, sharing in the Mission of Christ, strive to reach out to all. We are called to give generously: serving those in need; seeking peace and justice; caring for creation and boldly proclaiming Christ present in the world.
Reflection on Key Terms
The saving mission of the Risen Lord, the Christ, is one of reconciliation: to overcome the divide between God and humanity and the divide within humanity itself. It is to restore the world from its tendency toward fragmentation and alienation to the unity and communion which is its destiny (cf. Colossians 1:20). This mission breathes forth the Spirit, making us brothers and sisters to one another, such that, as the Communion we have become, we continue the same Mission. Thus, we are committed to reach out beyond the circle of Communion we enjoy to overcome the forces of exclusion and estrangement that have rendered people to the margins of society itself.
Throughout the Old Testament we see evidence of God’s concern for those who by their circumstances live on the ‘edge’ of social life. Jesus’ own words and deeds reveal the compassionate heart of God. He proclaimed the Kingdom of God as already breaking into history through his ministry:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, he has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19.)
This proclamation of the “Kingdom of God” is central to Jesus’ preaching (cf. Luke 17:20-21). Jesus expressed his understanding of this new order in the parables and in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-11).
To follow Jesus is to enter such a Kingdom and to work for its realisation in our midst. “Go and tell John what you see and hear ...” (Matthew 11:5-6). His words pierce to the depths of our hearts and challenge our ingrained attitudes of selfishness and exclusion of others, reversing the assumptions of a world ruled by power, exploitation and greed.
Pope Benedict XVI draws our attention particularly to this unity of faith and life, in which “the usual contraposition between worship and ethics falls apart.”
As he expresses,
“Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the love of love which they crave. Here we see the necessary interplay between love of God and love of neighbour which the First Letter of St. John speaks of with such insistence.”.
By working for life, not for death and violence, by upholding human dignity of all, and caring for the gift of creation, we are followers of Christ and citizens of the Kingdom.
In that way we come to knowledge of the true God:
“I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; Naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, In prison and you came to see me; I tell you solemnly in so far as you did this to any of my brothers and sisters you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:34-37, 40)
The Church's deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia).
These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable. For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being.
Faith, hope and charity go together. Hope is practised through the virtue of patience, which continues to do good even in the face of apparent failure, and through the virtue of humility, which accepts God's mystery and trusts him even at times of darkness.
Faith tells us that God has given his Son for our sakes and gives us the victorious certainty that it is really true: God is love! It thus transforms our impatience and our doubts into the sure hope that God holds the world in his hands and that, as the dramatic imagery of the end of the Book of Revelation points out, in spite of all darkness he ultimately triumphs in glory.
Faith, which sees the love of God revealed in the pierced heart of Jesus on the Cross, gives rise to love. Love is the light—and in the end, the only light—that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working. Love is possible, and we are able to practise it because we are created in the image of God. To experience love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world.
The Spirit is ... the energy which transforms the heart of the ecclesial community, so that it becomes a witness before the world to the love of the Father, who wishes to make humanity a single family in his Son.
The entire activity of the Church is an expression of a love that seeks the integral good of humanity: it seeks his evangelization through Word and Sacrament, an undertaking that is often heroic in the way it is acted out in history; and it seeks to promote humanity in the various arenas of life and human activity.
Love is therefore the service that the Church carries out in order to attend constantly to human suffering and the needs of humankind, including material needs.
Questions for Reflection
- What is your response to this statement?
- What are the words or phrases that resonate with you?
- What do you imagine when you picture “sharing in the mission of Christ”?
- What images come to mind when you think of “boldly proclaiming Christ present in the world?”
- What pictures do you get when you think of?