The Challenge of the Church in Communion with God and Man
by Fr. Rufus Pereira
Two words or terms that occur constantly in the Vatican Council II conciliar and post conciliar documents are 'Communion' and 'Evangelization' - not in isolation but in close connection with each another. For in the mind of the Council, the Church is the Channel of Communion between God and his Kingdom, by being the agent of communion with God and with Man.
Communion with the Triune God:
Communion with God, our Creator, who by his infinite power created us out of nothing, and our Father, who out of his infinite love fashioned us in his image. He loves and cares for us, walks with us hand in hand and talks with us face to face, teaches and disciplines us, boasts of us as his sons and daughters, and desires us to have a personal relationship with him, expressed in our trusting and loving compliance with his plan for our happiness. The God, who made us 'very good', like himself, for his glory, wants us therefore to be perfect and holy like him. He not only invites us his children to even call him 'Dad', 'Papa', 'Abba', but longs to keep us in constant communion with him,
Communion with Jesus the Christ, our Saviour and our Lord, who out of love for us became a man like us, being even tempted like us, was rejected and was even crucified for us. For he came to forgive our sins, to heal our wounds and to set us free from the Enemy. Now he desires to stay and be with us always, to make his home within us and wants us to remain in his love, even giving us his body and blood as our food and drink in Holy Communion. He calls us as his Followers and even addresses us as his Friends, first just to be always in communion with him, even making our home in him, and then to bear lasting and abundant fruit for the Kingdom together with him.
Communion with the Holy Spirit, who in stark contrast with the Evil Spirit, the liar and murderer and accuser, is the Spirit of Truth and Giver of Life, our Defender and Comforter, who is with us and lives in us, filling us with his presence, love and power. The Apostles were so aware of their communion with the Holy Spirit that they could retort to their accusers boldly: We are witnesses to all that happened to Jesus, we and the Holy Spirit. For from their encounter with the Spirit there came forth their communion with God manifested in joyful praise, communion with men expressed in bold proclamation, communion with one another displayed in a united community, and communion with the oppressed marked by compassionate caring and healing.
Communion in the Catholic Church:
Our communion as individuals with the three persons of the Holy Trinity, the Trinitarian Communion, will lead us and draw us into a wider communion of being together as the Family of God, of being formed into the Body of Christ, and of being built up into the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and will then overflow into a communion with the triple Church, Triumphant in Heaven, Suffering in Purgatory, and Militant on Earth.
The Communion of the Saints: beginning with Mary, who holds a singular place in this heavenly communion as our Mother, interceding for us with her Son, as at Cana, and pleading with us to obey his Word; and as our Model, standing by our cross, as at Calvary's Mount, and linking up with us in prayer as in Jerusalem's Upper Room. With her are the countless martyrs (witnesses by death) and the innumerable holy men and women (witnesses by life), truly our brothers and sisters, with whom we are in communion of prayer and emulation especially at the Eucharist. And with them are the departed members of our families and our parish community, now members of the Church Suffering, with whom we are in mutual communion again at the Eucharist.
Communion in Marriage and in the Family: Since Christ's sacrificial love for the Church is meant to serve as the model and be the inspiration of married love, husbands are urged to love and cherish their wives, just as Christ loves his Church, and wives are called upon to look up to and obey their husbands, just as the Church submits to Christ. They will thus together build up their home into the house of the Lord, by being one, not only in flesh, but in mind and heart, respecting, trusting in and caring for one another. Children likewise should obey but revere their parents, while parents should discipline but encourage their children. The Domestic Church, born out of marriage and constituted by the family, thus becomes the reflection of the Divine Communion, a Trinity in Unity.
Communion of and in the Parish: should manifest itself, on the one hand, with the Universal (that is what 'Catholic' means), the Continental, the National, and the Diocesan Church, and, on the other hand, especially with its Zonal (SCC) communities and their families. For there are varieties of Gifts, but one Spirit, many kinds of Services, but one Lord, and diversities of Power, but one God, and so we should all work together for the common good of all. Our communion should however be above all with the 'poor', i.e., with our 'neighbour', the homeless and the jobless, the hungry and the dropout, the sick and the addicted. Jesus' last, main, and only prayer was that his disciples may all be one, as the Father and he are one, and thus be both protected from the Evil One and the hatred of the world, and become in turn his witnesses by the sharing of their talents and of their resources - no one being anymore in any need.
Communion with the Whole World
Communion with other Christians: We all have one God, who alone is our one Father, and who out of love for us, his one family, reigns on all and works through all and lives in all of us. Moreover we are all baptized into one Lord, through one 'faith'. Furthermore we are all called by one Spirit into one body, the Body of Christ, and with one hope to form the Temple of the Holy Spirit. But, 'broken' as the Body of Christ is, we need to reach to the fullness and maturity of Christ, by being of one heart, then of one mind, and eventually by belonging to one body, so that, as Jesus himself prayed, we may all be one, in communion with one another, like the communion within the Blessed Trinity, a intimate unity in splendid diversity.
Communion with other Faiths: Since the God of love wants all men to know the Saving Truth and thus be saved, and since men of faith search one God and seek to do his holy will, we need to speak the truth to them with love, respecting their beliefs in dialogue, and praying with and interceding for them in communion. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, to be their atonement and reconciliation, their peace and their light. It is by spreading one hope of joy, and speaking one tongue of love, that all will recognize and proclaim Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Communion with the Earth and the Environment: While in the Old Covenant, God made the whole of creation 'good', so that the heavens and the earth declared his glory (i.e. his wisdom and power and beauty), and he gifted it to man for his use and pleasure; in the New Covenant, and especially today, we are called upon to free creation from its bondage to natural disaster and man made devastation, and bring it back under Christ, its head, by asking the same Spirit, by which the world was created, to now re-create and re-new the face of all the earth, and thus restore its pristine beauty and its harmonious communion with man.
By thus being a Follower in the Vision of Communion, we will become each a Leader in the Mission of Evangelization, as we make our prayer in one accord:
Unite us, Triune God, that we may all be one in you,
So that the world may believe, and will be all one too
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Led by the Spirit reproduced with permission from Charisindia. Copyright © Fr. Rufus Pereira. All rights reserved.