6. Church Teaching and Mission Today

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  • 1. THREE DOCUMENTS AS SIGN POSTS FOR MISSION TODAY THE WHY, WHO AND WHERE OF MISSION
  • 2. MISSION BEFORE VATICAN II: SAVING SOULS AND ESTABLISHING THE CHURCH
    • Before Vatican II the first motivation for mission was the salvation of individuals through baptism.
    • The second motivation for mission was the establishment of the institution of the church in “mission lands”.
  • 3. MISSION AS PARTICIPATION IN THE MISSION OF THE TRIUNE GOD
    • The Trinity is the center and origin of mission.
    • The Church is to be in communion with God’s triune life and its life is destined to be a sign and instrument of God’s presence in creation.
    • The church is missionary by its very nature.
    • The church doesn’t have a mission, but the mission is the church.
    • The church is the pilgrim people of God. Its mission is to point and witness to God’s reign.
    • Other religions and philosophies are preparation for the gospel.
    • Christians should enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions.
  • 4. MISSION AS LIBERATING SERVICE OF THE REIGN OF GOD
    • Pope Paul VI published “On Evangelization in the Modern World” where he anchors the mission of the church in the earthly mission of Jesus and his preaching of the kingdom or reign of God.
    • Only the kingdom is absolute and is linked with salvation which Jesus makes available to all those he meets on condition that they undergo a radical conversion, a profound change of mind and heart.
    • Salvation involves liberation from everything that oppresses man. It must not be reduced to merely temporal activity.
    • Evangelization is the vocation proper to the church. She exists to preach and teach, to be a channel of the gift of grace, to reconcile sinners with God, and to perpetuate Christ’s sacrifice of the Mass.
    • The very roots of culture itself must be evangelized.
    • The encyclical focuses on integral evangelization and integral salvation.
  • 5. MISSION AS PROCLAMATION OF JESUS CHRIST AS UNIVERSAL SAVIOR
    • Pope John Paul II published the encyclical “On The Permanent Validity Of The Church's Missionary Mandate ” in 1990 where he states that the primary motive for mission is the proclamation of Jesus Christ as universal Savior.
    • Pope John Paul II acknowledges that people can be saved outside the church. However, while interreligious dialogue is an essential element of mission, the Church is the ordinary means of salvation, and she alone possesses the fullness of the means of salvation.
    • It is important to incarnate the gospel in all peoples’ cultures.
    • The Kingdom cannot be detached either from Christ or from the church.
    • Mission goes beyond frontiers of race and religion, and works in areas of communications, peace, development, human rights, ecology, scientific research, and international relations.
  • 6. THE WHY OF MISSION
    • Mission is the basic and most urgent task of the church, because to be Christian is to become part of God’s life and God’s vision of the world.
    • We need to do mission to carry on the work of Jesus. As a community and as individuals, the church is not to be closed in on itself; rather, it prolongs who Jesus Christ is and what he did for the breaking in of the reign of God.
    • Christ is the one Savior of all, the only one able to reveal God and lead to God.
    • All people have a right to the fullness of truth, and so the church must be in mission.
    • Mission is a pressing matter because the majority of humanity does not know this or no longer believe.
  • 7. THE WHO OF MISSION
    • The whole church is missionary, and the work of evangelization is the basic duty of the People of God.
    • The whole church receives the mission to evangelize, and the work of each individual member is important for the whole.
    • Missionary activity is the work of all dioceses and parishes, church institutions and associations.
    • Laity, catechists; leaders of prayer, song and liturgy; leaders of basic ecclesial communities and bible study groups; those in charge of charitable works; administrators of Church resources; leaders in the various forms of the apostolate; and religion teachers in school are charged with the work of evangelization.
    • Some ordained, religious, and laity are identified as missionaries.
    • Missionary societies and organizations engage in long-term mission.
  • 8. THE WHERE OF MISSION
    • Before Vatican II, mission was defined geographically with the primary mission-sending area consisting of Western Europe, North America, and Australia.
    • The mission-receiving peoples basically lived in the rest of the world.
    • Vatican II redefined mission in terms of God’s mission, which cannot be limited to and confined within humanly determined territory boundaries.
    • Since Vatican II, the understanding of mission expanded to explicitly include justice, liberation, interreligious dialogue, the dynamic interaction of gospel and culture for every country, and re-evangelization.
    • Missionary activity moves beyond the frontiers of race and religion and needs to address situations of massive urbanization and poverty, and what is called the modern equivalent of the “Areopagus”.
  • 9. THE WEDDING BANQUET AS A PARABLE OF MISSION
    • Jesus and the early church often used food and table fellowship to talk about the reign of God and mission. The parable of the wedding feast (Mt 22:2-3) illustrates this.
    • In terms of motivation for mission the parable illustrates the three models of mission of our century:
      • Our triune God in mission calls people to the wedding feast of his Son, the Messiah and Savior.
      • Those invited represent the Jewish people who didn’t believe in Christ. Today these strong words extend much broader.
      • The invitation is extended to sinners, to the Gentiles. God’s mission knows no boundaries nor categories.
  • 10. QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
    • With which of the three models of mission do you most identify?
    • What one particular question related to mission challenges you, your parish, or the church in general?