Integrating Faith and Life
We, the people of the Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay, strive to live as the Communion whose Mission is both to deepen its faith in Jesus Christ, and to live and proclaim God’s message of transformation and hope in changing and challenging times.
Reflection on Key Terms
Though community is a relationship between people that we build and cultivate on our own initiative, Communion is a graced-reality that we receive in the Holy Spirit, the bond of love in the life of the Triune God in whose image we are made.
As disciples of the Risen Christ, open to the life of God growing ever more deeply within us, we strive, therefore, not simply to become a social community but rather those who enter into a much larger mystery of relationship that is both a divine gift and a human challenge.
Communion is something we receive in the Spirit yet it calls forth from us attitudes of heart and mind, choices and actions that go beyond our own limited vision in order that something larger than ourselves might become realised.
This spiritual bond between us, to which we are committed, underscores our identity and orients all our activity. It places all that we do in our life together at the service of manifesting God’s life in our world. It transcends our differences and our limitations; it unites us even in the presence of misunderstanding and conflict.
Our Spirit-given communion with one another, by virtue of our baptism, becomes the means by which we touch the presence of the Risen Christ in our midst, for as Jesus himself has said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name there I am in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
Therefore, it is in the deepening experience of communion with one another that our faith in Jesus Christ develops (cf. 1 John 1: 3).
This faith in the One, Crucified and Risen, takes root within us as we hear once again his question, “What do you seek?” (John 1:38). It grows as we find in him the fulfilment of our desire for a fully human life (cf. Mark 8:29).
We follow him, allowing his Word to find ever more deeply a home within us (cf. John 14:24), and so grow more and more in his likeness by a life fashioned by love (cf. Ephesians 3: 14-21).
The life of Jesus, present now in the Communion we share with another, in his Word which shapes our life, and in sacramental celebration, is the source of our joy and our confidence.
It is the source of our hope (1 Pet 1:3) as those who bear good news to those with whom we live and work: that in Jesus the world has been made anew, full of possibility and promise, graced.
With him, we are those who celebrate what has already occurred in him and we are those who both work for now and long for the realization in the future all that has been given us through him for the life of the world in all its giftedness and fragility.
Again we turn to the words of Jesus: "I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser... Abide in me and I in you" (Jn 15: 1,4).
These simple words reveal the mystery of communion that serves as the unifying bond between the Lord and his disciples, between Christ and the baptized: a living and life-giving communion through which Christians no longer belong to themselves but are the Lord's very own, as the branches are one with the vine ...
Such communion is the very mystery of the Church, as the Second Vatican Council recalls in the celebrated words of Saint Cyprian: "The Church shines forth as 'a people made one with the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit'"
'Communion' speaks of a double, life-giving participation: the incorporation of Christians into the life of Christ, and the communication of that life of charity to the entire body of the Faithful, in this world and in the next, union with Christ and in Christ, and union among Christians, in the Church.
Communion and mission are profoundly connected with each other, they interpenetrate and mutually imply each other, to the point that communion represents both the source and the fruit of mission: communion gives rise to mission and mission is accomplished in communion.
It is always the one and the same Spirit who calls together and unifies the Church and sends her to preach the Gospel "to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
On her part, the Church knows that the communion received by her as a gift is destined for all people.
Thus the Church feels she owes to each individual and to humanity as a whole the gift received from the Holy Spirit that pours the charity of Jesus Christ into the hearts of believers, as a mystical force for internal cohesion and external growth.
The mission of the Church flows from her own nature. Christ has willed it to be so: that of "sign and instrument... of unity of all the human race."
Such a mission has the purpose of making everyone know and live the "new" communion that the Son of God made man introduced into the history of the world.
In this regard, then, the testimony of John the Evangelist defines in an undeniable way the blessed end towards which the entire mission of the Church is directed:
"That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ" (1 Jn 1:3).
Questions for Reflection
- What is your response to this statement?
- What are the words or phrases that resonate with you?
- How does this statement connect with your life, your experience of church?
- What keeps you trying to bring to life the vision that you have?
- What needs transforming in these times, in the world?
- What does this statement say to you about church?
- If we were living the “communion” referred to in the statement, what would that look like?
- What is our message of transformation and hope?
- What hope does faith in Jesus Christ offer you?
- In terms of your relationship with Jesus, what are the challenges/barriers to deepening that relationship?
- What keeps you trying to bring life to the vision that you have?