Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Relationship between Christ and Church


VATICAN CITY, MAR 15, 2006 (VIS) - In today's general audience, held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 30,000 people, Benedict XVI began a new cycle of catechesis dedicated to the mystery of the relationship between Christ and the Church in the light of the experience of the Apostles and the task with which they were entrusted.

"The Church was constituted upon the foundation of the Apostles as a community of faith, hope and charity," the Pope explained. This began "when certain fishermen in Galilee met Jesus, and allowed themselves to be conquered ... by his invitation: ... 'Follow me and I will make you fishers of men'."

"After Mary, pure reflection of the light of Christ, it is the Apostles, their word and their testimony, that convey the truth of Christ to us. Yet theirs is not an isolated mission, it is part of a mystery of communion, one that involves the entire People of God and takes place in stages, from the old to the new Covenant."

The Holy Father highlighted the fact that Jesus' message "is completely misunderstood" if separated "from the context of the faith and hope of the chosen people," because "Jesus addressed Himself first of all to Israel in order to 'gather them' together in the eschatological time that had arrived with Him. Jesus' preaching, like John's, is both a call of grace and a sign of contradiction and judgement for the entire people of God."

For this reason, although the preaching of Jesus is "always a call to individual conversion, ... to interpret Christ's announcement of the Kingdom in individualistic terms would be unilateral and groundless," because in biblical tradition and despite its novelty, "it is clear that the entire mission of the Son-made-flesh has a community goal."

The choice of the twelve Apostles, a number that recalls the tribes of Israel, "reveals the significance of the prophetic-symbolic action inherent in the new institution. ... Choosing the Twelve, introducing them to communion of life with Him and rendering them participants in His mission of announcing the Kingdom, ... Jesus wishes to say that the definitive time has arrived in which God's promises are fulfilled."

"Thus, the twelve Apostles are the clearest sign of Jesus' will concerning the existence and mission of His Church, the guarantee that there is no contrast between Christ and the Church. And the slogan that became fashionable some years ago: 'Yes to Jesus, no to the Church,' is completely irreconcilable with the intentions of Christ."

Benedict XVI concluded: "Between the Son of God made flesh and His Church there exists a profound, unbreakable and mysterious continuity, by virtue of which Christ is present today in His people, and especially in those who are the successors of the Apostles."



No comments: