June 8, 2014
We are coming to the close of our 50-day Easter journey this weekend with the celebration of Pentecost. This day in which the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles is seen as the “birthday of the Church.”
In our ongoing efforts to understand this wonderful gift/responsibility we have received, I invite you to consider the wisdom and challenge presented by article 33 from Vatican II’s The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church:
“Gathered together in the people of God and established in the one body of Christ under one head, the laity, whoever they are, are called as living members to apply to the building up of the church and to its continual sanctification all the powers which they have received from the goodness of the Creator and from the grace of the Redeemer.”
The apostolate of the laity is a sharing in the church’s saving mission. Through Baptism and Confirmation all are appointed to this apostolate by the Lord himself. Moreover, by the sacraments, and especially by the sacred Eucharist, that love of God and humanity which is the soul of the entire apostolate is communicated and nourished. The laity, however, are given this special vocation: to make the church present and fruitful in those places and circumstances where it is only through them that it can become the salt of the earth. Thus, all lay people, through the gifts which they have received, are at once the witnesses and the living instruments of the mission of the church itself ‘according to the measure of Christ’s gift’ (Eph 4:7).
All the laity, then, have the exalted duty of working for the ever greater extension of the divine plan of salvation to all people of every time and every place. Every opportunity should therefore be given them to share zealously in the salvific work of the church according to their ability and the needs of the times.”
Yes, all Christians are called to continue Jesus’ good work through their membership in the Church.
This is an inherent responsibility received at Baptism. If someone says that they can be a good Christian and/or Catholic and do not have to be active within the Church, simply tell them that they are wrong. Invite them to read the Acts of the Apostles (which we have reflected on throughout the Easter season) and the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Clearly and decisively, God calls every Christian to actively support the Church. All have gifts to share.
Granted, how to live out this responsibility can indeed be a challenge, especially during the recent trying times within our local Church. However, our obligation to support the Church does not end because of our struggles with the leadership. All of us make up the Church. Remember, we are only as strong as our weakest member. Therefore, inactive or passive members need to be brought back home; and, active members need to be inspired to continue their efforts. We all must take our place at the table. Together we build the kingdom here on earth.
May the Holy Spirit continue to guide our efforts to be the Church!