Today, we commence with Chapter Five, “The Communion of the Missionary Disciples in the Church.” This examination will take us from these paragraphs to number 239, probably a month’s worth of posts.
Theme one, “Called To Live In Communion.” We begin with the Lord’s example of developing a relationship with his closest companions. The Scripture citations below list not only the Twelve, but also the seventy-two disciples. Though unnamed, these are the forebears in faith that point the way for the activation of the baptized Christian in the world. Let’s read:
154. At the outset of his ministry, Jesus chooses the Twelve to live in communion with him (cf. Mk 3:14). To foster communion and evaluate the mission, Jesus asks them: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” (Mk 6:31-32). On other occasions he will be with them to explain the mystery of the Kingdom to them (cf. Mk 4:11; 33-34). He does the same with the group of seventy-two disciples (cf. Lk 10: 17-20). It would seem that being alone with them means that Jesus wants to speak to the heart (cf. Hos 2:14). Likewise today the disciples’ encounter with Jesus in intimacy is indispensable for nourishing community life and missionary activity.
The Aparecida bishops speak of “intimacy.” It is important to recognize the importance of prayer, and the personal and persistent commitment to cultivating a relationship with God. The question might come to mind daily, “Where have I see you in my experiences today?” Prayer is a beginning, but something else is also needed: an awareness that God works in unseen, unexpected ways as we live and move through a day’s experiences.
Human companions help us in this:
155. The disciples of Jesus are called to live in communion with the Father (1 Jn 1:3) and with his dead and risen Son, in “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” (2 Cor 13:13). The mystery of the Trinity is the source, model, and goal of the mystery of the Church: “A people united by the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” called in Christ “like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race.”(Lumen Gentium 1) The communion of the faithful and of the particular churches in the people of God is based on communion with the Trinity.
It is not a stretch to say that the experience of the Church as a people is a sacrament. It’s true by a broad application of the classic definition (instituted by Christ to confer grace).
It’s a good thing to begin to think of Communion in multiple ways, and not just as something a Catholic may “get” as a reward for Mass attendance. Communion is fostered by prayer, experienced among people, and even across the entire people of God. Reflection on this point will likely get us much closer to an understanding of the Trinity than any theological treatise.
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.