Communion et Missio Borgjie Distura The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines declares the year of 2012 asthe “Year of the Pontifical Mission Societies.” Through this celebration, the Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines has the visionof enkindling the flame of missionary work especially here in the Philippines as it is alsoin commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the establishment of the Pontifical MissionSociety (PMS). The Church is optimistic that it is to be a grace-filled year, marked by renewedenthusiasm for dedicated service among Filipinos as Christ’s evangelizing disciples.Through a wide variety of activities, they are hoping to rekindle among Filipinos adynamic commitment to the effective evangelization. It is not to be mistaken that it is not only the men of cloth and the religious menand women who are called to missionary activities in the church. This call to mission isuniversal. In this article, I will dwell more on the mission of the laity in this universalcall. In treating the call of God to all people I wish to discuss two things – communionand mission respectively. This treatment is based in post-synodal apostolic exhortationChristifideles Laici of His Holiness John Paul II on the vocation and the mission of thelay faithful in the church and in the world. The analogy of the Blessed Pope John Paul II gives us the idea about laity as thelaborers in the vast vineyard of the Lord – this vast vineyard of the Lord is taken tosignify the world where there is so much work to be done and so much tasks to beaccomplished. The pope said in the opening words of his apostolic exhortation: The lay members of Christs Faithful People…are those who form that part of the People of God which might be likened to the laborers in the vineyard mentioned in Matthews Gospel: "For the Kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing
with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard" (Mt 20:1-2).1 From here we can say already that all are called to be laborers of God in hisvineyard including the lay faithful. From here we can say further the call to communioand the missio of the laity. First, the laity is in communio with all the laborers in thevineyard and secondly, his missio is to labor. THE CALL From that distant day the call of the Lord Jesus "You go into my vineyard too"never fails to resound in the course of history: it is addressed to every person who comesinto this world.2 The call is a concern not only of clergy and men and women religious. The call isaddressed to everyone: lay people as well are personally called by the Lord, from whomthey receive a mission on behalf of the Church and the world. The laity, finding themselves in the very place where the interaction between theChurch and the world is most visible and concrete, are simultaneously being called uponin a special way to accept their part in the Church’s mission.3 The Church becomes aware of the value of the laity by looking at the greatcontribution that the laity has been giving to the Church. The Synod of Bishops reflectingupon the mission and vocation of the laity in the church and in the world publiclyexpressed its gratitude to the lay faithful. The Synod said: "We give thanks that duringthe course of the Synod we have not only rejoiced in the participation of the lay faithful(both men and women auditors), but even more so in that the progress of the Synodaldiscussions has enabled us to listen to those whom we invited, representatives of the layfaithful from all parts of the world, from different countries, and to profit from their 1 Christifideles Laici on the Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in theWorld (John Paul II) no. 1. Henceforward CL. 2 CL 2. 3 Instrumentum Laboris on the Vocation and mission of the Laity in the Church and the WorldTwenty Years after the Second Vatican Council (Synod of Bishops) 1.
experience, their advice and the suggestions they have offered out of love for thecommon cause." THEIR MISSIO IS TO BE IN COMMUNIO The lay faithful today must be in communio with the life and mission of theChurch. Many lay faithful have to become aware of the Church’s responsibility to theworld. The faithful should also be formed about this responsibility. That is why in chapterfive of the apostolic exhortation the Holy Father teaches that the faithful must also beformed that you bear much fruit. The Pontiff said that the gospel image of the vine andthe branches reveals to us another fundamental aspect of the lay faithfuls life andmission: the call to growth and a continual process of maturation, of always bearingmuch fruit. The lay must be in communio with the Church’s responsibility in the worldbecause through them the Church has the opportunity of making her present in the reallife situations of human existence. Their utmost response to this communio would mean amaturation of the Church’s effectiveness in her mission. What can their communio in the Church imply? Well, we can reflect from herethat by their communio they can bear witness to the timeliness of the Redemption ofJesus Christ in building a more just world to live in. Their participation in the communiocan combat the mentality of secularism that is very much present in the world todaydepriving human existence of its authentic meaning. Not only that, the laity in communiocan also lessen the serious phenomenon of disintegration brought by secularism in theworld. Further, their communio can lead the laity into a social awareness regarding theproblem in the world like hunger, poverty, moral corruption and a bunch of many otherserious problems. In being a communio, they cannot but be disturb with a creativedisturbance by giving and offering solutions to these problems and not just by beingindifferent towards those pressing problems. To conclude, Christians are called by God to a personal relationship with Him inlove. And from this call also comes the personal dignity of the laity – the thought and the
fact that each one of them has been called by God himself and invited to a personalrelationship with Him. This communio of love must be manifested in concrete aspect onthe part of the one called. Hence, their mission is to participate in the communio asconcrete as it can be in the love and charity patterned before God and patterned accordingto the mind of the Church.