COMMUNION ET  MISSIO

It is not to be mistaken that it is not only the men of cloth and the religious men and women who are called to missionary activities in the church. This call to mission is universal. In this article, I will dwell more on the mission of the laity in this universal call.

In treating the call of God to all people I wish to discuss two things – communion and mission respectively. This treatment is based on the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici of His Holiness John Paul II on the vocation and the mission of the lay faithful in the church and in the world.

The analogy of the St. Pope John Paul II gives us the idea about laity as the laborers in the vast vineyard of the Lord – this vast vineyard of the Lord is taken to signify the world where there is so much work to be done and so much tasks to be accomplished. The pope said in the opening words of his apostolic exhortation:

The lay members of Christ’s Faithful People…are those who form that part of the People of God which might be likened to the laborers in the vineyard mentioned in Matthew’s Gospel: “For the Kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard” (Mt 20:1-2).[1]

From here we can say already that all are called to be laborers of God in his vineyard including the lay faithful. From here we can say further the call to communio and the missio of the laity. First, the laity is in communio with all the laborers in the vineyard and secondly, his missio is to labor.

 

THE CALL

From that distant day the call of the Lord Jesus “You go into my vineyard too” never fails to resound in the course of history: it is addressed to every person who comes into this world.[2]

The call is a concern not only of clergy and men and women religious. The call is addressed to everyone: lay people as well are personally called by the Lord, from whom they receive a mission on behalf of the Church and the world.

The laity, finding themselves in the very place where the interaction between the Church and the world is most visible and concrete, are simultaneously being called upon in a special way to accept their part in the Church’s mission.[3]

The Church becomes aware of the value of the laity by looking at the great contribution that the laity has been giving to the Church. The Synod of Bishops reflecting upon the mission and vocation of the laity in the church and in the world publicly expressed its gratitude to the lay faithful. The Synod said: “We give thanks that during the course of the Synod we have not only rejoiced in the participation of the lay faithful (both men and women auditors), but even more so in that the progress of the Synodal discussions has enabled us to listen to those whom we invited, representatives of the lay faithful from all parts of the world, from different countries, and to profit from their experience, their advice and the suggestions they have offered out of love for the common cause.”

 

THEIR MISSIO IS TO BE IN COMMUNIO

The lay faithful today must be in communio with the life and mission of the Church. Many lay faithful have to become aware of the Church’s responsibility to the world. The faithful should also be formed about this responsibility. That is why in chapter five of the apostolic exhortation the Holy Father teaches that the faithful must also be formed that you bear much fruit. The Pontiff said that the gospel image of the vine and the branches reveals to us another fundamental aspect of the lay faithful’s life and mission: the call to growth and a continual process of maturation, of always bearing much fruit.

The lay must be in communio with the Church’s responsibility in the world because through them the Church has the opportunity of making her present in the real life situations of human existence. Their utmost response to this communio would mean a maturation of the Church’s effectiveness in her mission.

What can their communio in the Church imply? Well, we can reflect from here that by their communio they can bear witness to the timeliness of the Redemption of Jesus Christ in building a more just world to live in. Their participation in the communio can combat the mentality of secularism that is very much present in the world today depriving human existence of its authentic meaning. Not only that, the laity in communio can also lessen the serious phenomenon of disintegration brought by secularism in the world. Further, their communio can lead the laity into a social awareness regarding the problem in the world like hunger, poverty, moral corruption and a bunch of many other serious problems. In being a communio, they cannot but be disturbed with a creative disturbance by giving and offering solutions to these problems and not just by being indifferent towards those pressing problems.

To conclude, Christians are called by God to a personal relationship with Him in love. And from this call also comes the personal dignity of the laity – the thought and the fact that each one of them has been called by God himself and invited to a personal relationship with Him. This communio of love must be manifested in concrete aspect on the part of the one called. Hence, their mission is to participate in the communio as concrete as it can be in the love and charity patterned before God and patterned according to the mind of the Church.


[1] Christifideles Laici on the Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World (John Paul II) no. 1. Henceforward CL.

[2] CL  2.

[3] Instrumentum Laboris on the Vocation and mission of the Laity in the Church and the World Twenty Years after the Second Vatican Council (Synod of Bishops) 1.

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