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We are part of a vibrant and living parish community! And I know this because I’ve seen the fruit of the work of the Spirit, Who is alive and active in this very community. We’ve got a bunch of adults who have either commenced the next step of their Christian initiation journey or are interested in learning more about becoming Catholic; we’ve got a regular stream of babies being baptised every Saturday morning – we welcome Porsha Janifa D’Arrigo into the parish community this weekend – and we’ve got hundreds, if not thousands of people like you who come to Sunday Mass to offer praise and thanksgiving to the living God. Ours is a vibrant and living community!
When the Second Vatican Council published its documents in 1965, the Universal Church experienced a 180 degree about-turn. Prior to the Council, the Church had, for all intents and purposes, been an inward-facing institution – separated from the world. Following the publication of documents such as Gaudium et Spes – The Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World – we turned to face outward. We turned and sought coexistence between the life of the Church and the life of the world.
Turning outward meant a different way of doing Church, however. It meant and still means today that we – baptised Catholics – carry the mandate to go out to the world and share the Good News with those who need it most. It means not living in the comfortable confines of our immediate existence but seeking out the lost (Lk 15:7), the sick (Lk 5:31), the lonely and unloved (Mt 25:40).
In this weekend’s second reading, St Paul reminds us of the ever-powerful kerygma – the irreducible essence of Christian apostolic preaching – that helps us in our outward-facing mission. Paul reminds the Corinthians that the first and most important thing he himself learnt, and that he taught them, is that Jesus Christ died for our salvation, was buried, and was raised to life.
Two thousand years later, the kerygma is still the irreducible essence of our faith and a powerful way to proclaim the Good News to those who need it most. While we are indeed blessed to be part of a vibrant and living Catholic community, the ongoing life of our local Church depends upon each one of us making a conscious decision to turn outward and engage the mission of evangelisation. There is always work to do; so, like St Paul, may we strive to work hard for the sake of the Church so that she may be in the world, not apart from it.
Deacon Joshua Whitehead