The Church: Community of Disciples with a Mission

Overview


Jesus formed a community of disciples to continue God’s mission in and for the world. Twelve of his disciples were given the name ‘Apostles’. After spending time with him, and learning from him, they were sent out on mission. At Pentecost, many disciples, including the apostles, were gathered with Mary, the mother of Jesus, when the Holy Spirit filled them all, enabling them to continue’ the mission of Jesus Christ.

The Apostles became leaders of early Church communities. Saint Paul was a later addition to this band, after he also encountered the Risen Christ and was also asked to share the Church’s mission. The mission was to announce the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and all it meant for every person and the whole world, and to invite people into relationship with God in and through Jesus Christ. The Church is called to be a sacrament of God’s life and love, active in bringing God’s Reign on earth:

“The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of men [and women] of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the followers of Christ." (Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, par 1).
 
Baptism begins the process of initiation into the Catholic Church community. Full initiation and belonging is completed with the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Eucharist. Every baptised person is called and gifted to share in the mission of Jesus Christ to the world.

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“As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers,
Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew;
they were making a cast in the lake with their net, for they were fishermen.
And he said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.
And they left their nets at once and followed him” (Matthew 4:18-22).

“There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit;
there are all sorts of service to be done, but always the same Lord;
working in all sorts of different ways in different people,
it is the same God who is working in all of them.
The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose.
One may have the gift of preaching with wisdom given by the Spirit;
another may have the gift of faith given by the same Spirit;
another again the gift of healing, through this one Spirit;
one, the power of miracles; another, prophecy;  
another the gift of recognising spirits;
another the gift of tongues and another the ability to interpret them.
All these are the work of one and the same Spirit
who distributes different gifts to different people just as he chooses” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

‘Baptism incorporates us into the Church. From the baptismal font is born the one People of God of the New Covenant, which transcends all the natural or human limits of nations, cultures, races and sexes’(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1267).

Through Baptism ‘the faithful are made one body with Christ and are established among the People of God. They carry out their own part in the mission of the whole Christian people with respect to the Church and the world’ (The Vatican II Council, Lumen Gentium, 31).

Every member is called to follow Christ, supported by the Christian community. The Body of Christ is not complete if anyone is missing! All belong and have their part to play. Baptised people are called to share their gifts, and to strive to become all they are called by God to be. All are called grow in friendship with Jesus, to love as Jesus loved and to worship God in Jesus as participants in community life. All are called to service, to speak up against injustice, to side with the poor and the oppressed, to stand for truth and goodness,. Each does all that they can to promote and enable all that is ‘true, good and beautiful in the human community (The Vatican II Council, Gaudium et Spes, 76).

“As sharers in the role of Christ as priest, prophet, and king, the laity have their work cut out for them in the life and activity of the Church. Their activity is so necessary within the Church communities that without it the apostolate of the pastors is often unable to achieve its full effectiveness. In the manner of the men and women who helped Paul in spreading the Gospel (cf. Acts 18:18, 26; Rom. 16:3) the laity with the right apostolic attitude supply what is lacking to their brethren and refresh the spirit of pastors and of the rest of the faithful (cf. 1 Cor. 16:17-18)” (Vatican II, Decree on the Apostolate of the Lay people, 1965, par 10).

Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) promulgated by Pope Paul VI December 7, 1965: Click here to Access from the Vatican website:


Catechism of the Catholic Church

 

(Paragraph numbers for the Catechism are shown - Click the Nos section to view)

INITIATION INTO THE COMMUNITY OF THE CHURCH   No 1213  

THE CHURCH Nos 748-750Nos 751-780
PEOPLE OF GOD, BODY OF CHRIST, TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT  Nos 781-810 
ONE CHURCH, UNITY, DIVERSITY OF GIFTS,  HOLY, CATHOLIC (UNIVERSAL), APOSTOLIC Nos 811-870
CHRIST'S FAITHFUL – DIFFERENT VOCATIONS  Nos 871-945  

THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS Nos 946-962 
MARY - MOTHER OF CHRIST, MOTHER OF THE CHURCH Nos 963-975 

 


Items of Interest

Psalms and readings from the Liturgy of the Hours, and Mass readings.

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