Sections 143-148 address the third topic of the fourth chapter, “Sent To Announce The Gospel Of The Kingdom Of Life.” The bishops aren’t talking about biological life as such. They are discussing a new system in which God sets the path, and we follow. Following the Master does not require good understanding on our part. Sometimes, it happens in spite of our incompetence, our sinfulness, or our willful stubbornness. The Aparecida bishops are speaking of the Paschal Mystery. As a liturgist, this perks up my ears. Hopefully yours, too:
143. With words and actions, and with his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ, true man and true God, inaugurates in our midst the Father’s Kingdom of life, which will attain its fullness there where there will be no more “death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away” (Rev 21:4).
The Paschal Mystery, the Reign of God begins with the kerygmatic mission. It reaches fulfillment in the events we celebrate in the Triduum:
During his life and his death on the cross, Jesus remains faithful to his Father and to his will (cf. Lk 22:42). During his ministry, the disciples were not capable of understanding that the meaning of his life sealed the meaning of his death. Much less could they understand that, by the Father’s design, the Son’s death was the source of fruitful life for all (cf. Jn 12:23-24). The paschal mystery of Jesus is the act of obedience and love for the Father and of surrender for all his brothers and sisters, by which the Messiah fully bestows that life that he was offering on the roads and in the villages of Palestine. By his voluntary sacrifice, the Lamb of God places his life as an offering in the hands of the Father (cf. Lk 23:46), who makes it salvation “for us” (1 Cor 1:30). By the paschal mystery, the Father seals the new covenant and generates a new people, founded on his gratuitous love as saving Father.
This gratuitous love is often expressed in the parables of the public ministry of the Lord. Luke 15:11-32 illustrates all this in that great tale of forgiveness. Recall that both Adam and the younger son were more than willing to disregard their father to the point of taking over their own lives, to the point of wishing for their death (Cf. Luke 15:12a).
So Jesus calls us. What are we do to? Be loyal spectators? Internal participants of a clerically-enacted ministry? Not at all. We are given a mission:
144. In calling his own to follow him, he gives them a very precise mandate: to proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom to all nations (cf. Mt 23:19; Lk 24:46-48). Hence, every disciple is missionary, for Jesus makes him (or her) participate in his mission, while also binding him (or her) to himself as friend and brother. Thus, as He is witness to the mystery of the Father, so the disciples are witnesses to the Lord’s death and resurrection until He returns. Fulfilling this duty is not an optional task, but an integral part of Christian identity, because it is the witnessing extension of the calling itself.
The Rebuilt guys ask one great question: Why do parishes bother with the expenditure of time and effort to craft mission statements when we already have one? Paragraph 144 tells us some remarkable stuff, and we should be making remarks to one another about it. Or at least conversations.
- Proclaim the message of Jesus
- Proclaim it everywhere
- Accept that personal relationship as friend and brother
- Be a witness–not just an observer, but a person who testifies to others
- This is not optional
- This is a required part of the Christian identity
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.