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Church Transformed by Mission
Jesus told his followers to tell everyone everywhere about him, so that we too might come to faith in Christ. That is what the Church has to do.
Pope Francis takes a realistic view of the Church as community of people. He recognises that to carry out its mission its people must know who they are and whose they are. They must have heard the good news and have been transformed by their faith in Jesus.
In this way the Church itself as a community at large can recognise its mission. It is not enough to be a community of church goers. We have to be a community which goes out to reach today's people where they are. The very fact of doing this transforms the Church, bringing it to understand that it exists to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
Church structures though necessary are not the primary purpose of the Church. The structures are only there to help the Church in its task. We have to be ready to renew those structures to achieve our missionary purpose.
Francis' dream (27) is of a missionary option. A Church no longer preoccupied with self preservation but ready to engage with today's world. Ready to interact in ways which the world can understand, so as to bring its message of love reflecting the open and inclusive approach of Jesus himself.
The mission of the Church is proclaimed at many levels
:- Individual, parish, diocese, universal.
At each level those who belong to the faith community( believers in Jesus)
have to foster a missionary outlook.
Most believers find their place in the community at the level of parish. It is here above all that individuals face a challenge.
(33). Pastoral ministry in a missionary key [mode] seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: “We have always done it this way”. I invite every one to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelisation in their respective communities. A proposal of goals without an adequate communal search for the means of achieving them will inevitably prove illusory.
Today whatever is said can quickly reach a wide audience. It is important that what reaches the wider audience are the essentials of faith. This core has to be presented without assuming that the listener will have the background knowledge we might expect. There must be a careful balance in the presentation recognising that
(35) What counts above all else is “faith working through love” (Gal 5:6).
We lose that balance
(38)when we speak more about law than about grace,
more about the Church than about Christ,
more about the Pope than about God’s word.
The gospel message has its own integrity. (38) Christian morality is not a form of stoicism, or self-denial, or merely a practical philosophy or a catalogue of sins and faults. Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others. Under no circumstance can this invitation be obscured! All of the virtues are at the service of this response of love.
As John XXIII said at the opening of the second Vatican council: “The deposit of the faith is one thing... the way it is expressed is another”.
The Church's mission is to human beings, and its mission is entrusted to human beings. All human beings of necessity live within their limitations. We have to remember this when presenting our faith. This is particularly so for the faithful themselves. Mercy has to temper justice.
This is essential for pastors
and the lay faithful who accompany their brothers and sisters in
(44) Consequently, with out detracting from the evangelical ideal, they need to accompany with mercy and patience the eventual stages of personal growth as these progressively occur.
The Church has to follow Christ in his pattern of openness. No one was excluded from his call to love and be loved: no one can be excluded from ours.
(46) A Church which “goes forth” is a Church whose doors are open.
(47) The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open.
One concrete sign of such openness is that our
church doors should always be open, so that if some one,
moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God,
he or she will not find a closed door.
But it is not enough to leave the church doors open. The Church community must go
out to the streets. And its priority must be the most needy.
Francis (49) prefer[s] a
Church which is
bruised, hurting and dirty
because it has been out on the streets,
(49) If something
should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences,
it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living
strength, light and consolation
born of friend ship with Jesus
without a community of faith to support them,
and a goal in life.
More than by fear of going astray,
my hope is
that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up
structures which give us a false sense of security,
which make us harsh judges,
within habits which make us feel safe,
while at our door people are starving and
Jesus does not tire of
saying to us:
“Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37).