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Faith in the world

The readings in today’s Mass focus the attention of the disciples on the mission that they are to be given. Jesus is preparing them for the time when he will no longer be physically with them and they will have the responsibility of witnessing to the faith in the world.

It is of great interest to us, because Jesus is introducing the disciples to the vocation and mission that we, as Christians, are living in our lives.

He focusses on three themes. The first is who he is. His own identity. The second is the meaning of the death and resurrection, which he is foretelling, and the third is the implications or meaning of discipleship.

All three are bound together in the one command. “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”

The second reading follows up this theme. It is taken from the letter of St. James, who always talks about highly concrete and practical things. He speaks of the need to express our faith in deeds, or in other words, to express the love of Christ in the world through our actions.

Action gives expression to our relationship with Jesus and faith in the crucified Christ is expressed in a life-long discipleship of service to others.

The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) repeats this emphasis and stresses the importance of the whole community giving witness, as well as each individual within it.

While the Church has a religious mission, which transcends any one culture, any one political, economic or social system, the council teaches that each one of us has the responsibility to promote justice in society in our everyday activities.

The constitution also highlights the laity as having a particular responsibility for the building up of the kingdom of God in society. Lay people have the responsibility to use their faith to influence the environment in which they spend their everyday lives, at work, in the home and in their social lives.

The constitution points out, “One of the gravest errors of our time is the dichotomy between the faith which they profess and their day-to-day conduct” (43). It continues, “The laity is called to participate actively in the entire life of the Church; not only are they to animate the world with the spirit of Christianity, they are to be witnesses to Christ in all circumstances and at the very heart of the human community” (43).

The constitution also recognises that the communication of our lives with the society in which we live is a two way street, as the Church has much to gain from interaction with society in the way it exists in the many cultures of the world, as well as with science, family, culture, economic, political and social life.

As the universal sacrament of salvation, the Church makes the saving love of God known in the world. Our role as disciples is to express this love in our daily lives.

Homily notes for Year of  Grace Adelaide Archdiocese