Dies Domini 31: The Risen Christ Inspires Community

Let’s begin a new stage in our journey with Pope John Paul II, his third chapter, “Dies Ecclesiae,” the Day of the Church. He describes the “Eucharistic Assembly” as residing in the “Heart of Sunday.” Is this too much of a congregationalist, communitarian approach? Not really. “The presence of the Risen Lord” is cited as a heading for DD 31. Let’s read:

31. “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). This promise of Christ never ceases to resound in the Church as the fertile secret of her life and the wellspring of her hope. As the day of Resurrection, Sunday is not only the remembrance of a past event: it is a celebration of the living presence of the Risen Lord in the midst of his own people.

Sunday is not just about looking back at  Creation, at the Jewish foundations of Sabbath, or at the Resurrection as a long-ago, but fondly remembered event. Christ lives among his people. And so Sunday is a celebration of a current reality and is not only a memorial day.

It is also not sufficient to cultivate an interior orientation to Sunday and to the Eucharist. Sorry, introverts:

For this presence to be properly proclaimed and lived, it is not enough that the disciples of Christ pray individually and commemorate the death and Resurrection of Christ inwardly, in the secrecy of their hearts. Those who have received the grace of baptism are not saved as individuals alone, but as members of the Mystical Body, having become part of the People of God.(Cf. Lumen Gentium 9) It is important therefore that they come together to express fully the very identity of the Church, the ekklesia, the assembly called together by the Risen Lord who offered his life “to reunite the scattered children of God” (Jn 11:52). They have become “one” in Christ (cf. Gal3:28) through the gift of the Spirit. This unity becomes visible when Christians gather together: it is then that they come to know vividly and to testify to the world that they are the people redeemed, drawn “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9). The assembly of Christ’s disciples embodies from age to age the image of the first Christian community which Luke gives as an example in the Acts of the Apostles, when he recounts that the first baptized believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (2:42).

Unity is not merely an intellectual assent. It is also a social reality for people God has created as social beings. Saint John attests the universality of the community of believers. Saint Luke paints a portrait of the ideal Christian community. Sunday is the day in which this community is celebrated and expressed. It seems the least appropriate day for clinging to introversion.

The Vatican site has Dies Domini in its entirety.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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