Mission and roles of all in the Church
1. For the Vatican II council the Church is the community of the Baptized RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MISSION OF CHRIST. It is the mission OF ALL OF US to continue this mission (see Lumen Gentium # 2; see also the document of AD GENTES). Through Baptism we are all "priests". Not all of us are ordained priests but we are priests by baptism. We belong to the COMMON PRIESTHOOD OF THE FAITHFUL (see Lumen Gentium # 10).
2. All of us, members of the Church, have our competences and gifts and talents. For Vatican II we are all called to MANIFEST our concern for the Church and help in the mission of the Church (see Lumen Gentium # 37). This involves our common responsibility to PROMOTE the Kingdom of God in the world FOLLOWING THE FOOTSTEPS OF JESUS. This means that EACH OF US HAS A VERY IMPORTANT ROLE TO PLAY. Each of us is not zero in mission. Nobody in the Church is zero and has no worth or value. Each one is so valuable, so important. Lay people, consecrated life people, priests...all have roles. The best area of participation is IN AND THROUGH THE DIOCESE--or "local Church".
3. Christian duty is to participate in the mission of the Church. We all have THE SAME DIGNITY AND RESPONSIBILITY shared in the Church.
4. We are IN THE CHURCH IN THE WORLD...and at the same time, we are IN THE WORLD IN THE CHURCH. The Church is in the world; she is in our different societies. She has her place and role in society. But inside the Church is also the world. The Church is also marked by the culture and politics and economics of her members. Hence we should know how to manage this all.
5. Pope Benedict XVI noted that there are three main work of the Church: ANNOUNCE THE WORLD OF GOD, CELEBRATE THE SACRAMENTS AND SERVICE WITH CHARITY (see Deus caritas est # 25).
Church as Dialogical
1. Let us talk of Revelation. It is the communication of God to us all--through the Scriptures, through our moral conscience and through Church Tradition. God communicated himself and invited us--and continues to invite us--to have a share in his life. (See Dei Verbum # 6). REVELATION IS DIALOGICAL. Dialogue is about partners in reciprocity. Revelation was--and is--NEVER ONE WAY (unilateral). It is not just God doing all the communication and us absorbing it all. Revelation is not a constraint. It is dialogical AND RELATIVE TO HOW WE RESPOND. This is why Revelation is not just a transmission of content. To put this in simple terms, we just do not think about what the CCC says or what the Bishops declare. We also have to ask WHAT IS OUR RESPONSE TO WHAT IS TRANSMITTED TO US. How real and true (and joyful) is the message of God for us? What do we do in response? Full revelation thus includes the response of our faith.
2. Yes, we have doctrines in the Church, ok. But this is deepened and accompanied by how we implicate ourselves--how we involve ourselves. How do we deepen our lives and our relationships with others? It might be strange to our ears when we hear, "God needs us too". But this is true. The Incarnation of Christ made it clear that as God valued our humanity he also respected our freedom to participate in his mission and life. Even in the incarnaion of Jesus Christ God took a risk. We can continually crucify his Son--through injustice, violence, cheating, etc. God continually needs us especally in our sharing in his mission.
3. This is why Revelation is really a PROCESS that is ALWAYS ONGOING. We as Church articipate in this process. Our mission extends and shares the Kingdom to others. We continu the Revealing of God to the world. Yes, we confess that Christ is the summit of God's Revelation, but this Reveltion is NOT PADLOCKED. It is dynamic and shared. It is Revelation ON MISSION.
4. We should not turn our backs on situations of crisis and heavy criticism against the Church. A point of struggle, misunderstanding and even crisis PUSHES US to think well about our mission BASED ON THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. We might need to discern where the Spirit is moving and the Spirit may be moving in new places, new socia links. There was a time, for example, when the Church was only about the roles of the ädults". Today we see the importance of the youth. There was a time when the Church was concentrated on the hierarchy ad structures. Today we have a "communion Church"where even the laity have a voice. There was a time when the Church was ëxclusivist"in front of other religions. Now she is faced with the challenge of religious pluralism. Changes can happen in the Church.
5. We need to emphasize that the Church, as she is based on Revelation, is continually dialogical with the world. Dialogue is so necessary--even if it is about VERY DIFFICULT THEMES. The emphasis on concentration only among ourselves is finished. The doors are open.
6. If we want the Gosple to be attractive and to be heard in the world we might need to move slowly away from being so heaviy structured and cencentrated on our hierarchical status with the priests on top and the laity at the bottom. Today society is fluid and filled with networkd--webs. There can be underlying life in the Church that needs exploration. Take the example of certain Christians who, while staying in the Church, are so involved in the concrete practices of people of OTHER RELIGIONS. e might need to hear those voices. Their dialogue with other religions can be share within the Church.
Formation of the Laity
1. If mission is the work of everyone, then it may be necessary to have a FORMATION FOR ALL. Formation is not to be concentrated on priests and consecrated life people. Form the laity too. The hierarchy and the religious congregations ar not designed to promote themselves. The promote their vocation AND SERVICE TO THE KINGDOM. Hence they need to give space and time for the formation of the laity. (Can we imagine a MAPAC for the laity too?) The laity have a very important "hands on" work in the temporal affairs of society. They must be given the chance to really participate. The mission of the Church is not in the monopoly of priests and consecrated people. Lay people also have their roles to play for the promotion of the Kingdom.The laity can go on mission too, especially in AD GENTES mission. They need formation for this.
2. There are many forms of vocation--including the vocation for family life and vocation for single life. We might still be promoting this gap between priests-religious and laity AS IF THE MARRIED AND SINGLE PEOPLE ARE MARGINALIZED. Remember that even if the laity are not ordained priests, they are still PRIESTS BY BAPTISM. So their dignity is not different from the dignity of priests-religious. Are priests-religious shepherding the laity?
Women in particular
Everyone is responsible for the mission of the Church. WOMEN need to be given more place too. WOMEN COLLABORATE TOO. WOMEN CAN TAKE LEADERSHIP ROLES TOO.
How do we. as Church, show our place in the world and in the promotion of the Kingdom? By working humbly, honestly and IN COMMUNION AND DIALOGUE WITHIN THE CHURCH AND WITH THE WORLD. We need to re-root ourselves in Christ and his Gospel, see how we as Church responds to his call.