Reflections on Lumen Gentium, Part 5

5. The mystery of the holy Church is manifest in its very foundation. The Lord Jesus set it on its course by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of the Kingdom of God, which, for centuries, had been promised in the Scriptures: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand”(18). In the word, in the works, and in the presence of Christ, this kingdom was clearly open to the view of all people. The Word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field;(19) those who hear the Word with faith and become part of the little flock of Christ,(20) have received the Kingdom itself. Then, by its own power the seed sprouts and grows until harvest time.(21) The Miracles of Jesus also confirm that the Kingdom has already arrived on earth: “If I cast out devils by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you”.(22) Before all things, however, the Kingdom is clearly visible in the very Person of Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man, who came “to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many:”(23)

When Jesus, who had suffered the death of the cross for humankind, had risen, He appeared as the one constituted as Lord, Christ and eternal Priest,(24) and He poured out on His disciples the Spirit promised by the Father.(25) From this source the Church, equipped with the gifts of its Founder and faithfully guarding His precepts of charity, humility and self-sacrifice, receives the mission to proclaim and to spread among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God and to be, on earth, the initial budding forth of that kingdom. While it slowly grows, the Church strains toward the completed Kingdom and, with all its strength, hopes and desires to be united in glory with its King.

18. Mk. 1:15; cf. Mt. 4:17.

19. Mk. 4:14.

20 Lk. 12:32.

21 Cf. Mk. 4:26-29.

22 Lk. 11:20; cf. Mt.12:28.

23 Mk. 10.45.

24 Cf. Acts 2:36; Heb. 5:6; 7:17-21.

25 Cf. Acts 2:33.

 

This is the mystery of the Church that Jesus established: the Church is the instrument of God’s revelation in Christ, the ordinary instrument by which God’s grace is poured out to all for the sake of our salvation, the Body of Christ, and the “initial budding forth” of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus made the Kingdom of God manifest in His life and mission. He proclaimed that the Kingdom of God is at hand and preached the truth that all who believe might become members of His body and might receive the mystery of the Kingdom, which is our salvation and our sharing in the very life of God.

It is the Church’s mission, then, founded by Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom to all, and to bring all who embrace this Good News to the fullness of life in Christ.

The ministers of the Church accomplish this mission when they are faithful to the message of salvation given by Christ and when they are faithful to the precepts of charity, humility, and self-sacrifice. Too often, sadly, those who sit in positions of service in the Church have assumed positions of authority and power. They forget that their responsibility is to reflect the love (charity), humility, and self-sacrifice of Christ, to be, as St. Paul was, all things to all people that they might win a few over to Christ. When her ministers are faithful to the message of salvation and to the precepts of charity, humility, and self-sacrifice, then the Holy Spirit is able to work through them to accomplish truly marvelous things, the most marvelous of which is the salvation of each particular person by the grace of God.

As the Church grows by adding new members who embrace the message of salvation in Christ, she “strains toward the completed Kingdom,” the plan of salvation come to fruition by the work of Christ, sent by the Father, and confirmed by the Holy Spirit.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

 

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