.- After learning that the mission of the Church is unclear to some Catholics, Archbishop John C. Niendstedt has emphasized that the Christian mission is to âcontinue the works of Jesus Christâ and to make his name âknown and loved.â
The Archbishop of Minneapolis-St. Paulâs comments were published in The Catholic Spirit as part of a reflection on planning sessions for parishes and Catholic schools.
The sessions collected comments from Catholics. According to the archbishop, Catholics hoped their faith would grow stronger in the future. They had âan overall sense of hopefulness.â
Archbishop Nienstedt thought the most interesting statement suggested that the archdiocese should clarify the mission of the Church.
âI found this intriguing because I always assumed that the mission of the Church was clear to all her members,â he wrote.
He quoted from âThe Church,â a work of theologian Fr. Hans Kung authored before his more controversial writings:
ââ¦without the raising of Jesus from the dead the community of believers, the Church, is meaningless. Only the certainty that the Crucified Christ lives on as the Risen Christ, glorified by God, gives us the solution to the riddle of Jesus as a person and makes the Church possible and real.â
The first Christian disciplesâ affirmation of this faith gave birth to a new community which celebrated the âbreaking of the breadâ with âglad hearts,â Fr. Kung wrote, quoting Acts 2.
The theologian said this new group was an âeschatological community of salvation.â He used the theological word for âlast thingsâ such as heaven, hell, the general judgment of mankind by God, and the resurrection of the body.
Archbishop Nienstedt explained that the source of the Churchâs mission is the conviction that Christ is risen and fully alive and present to the community of believing Christians.
He noted Jesus Christâs words at the start of the Gospel of Mark: âThis is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.â
The prelate then cited Jesusâ words in Matthew 28: âGo, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.â
He pointed to Christâs words in John 20: âAs the Father has sent me so I send youâ¦ Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain are retained.â
Noting the root of the word âmissionâ means being âsent,â Archbishop Nienstedt said the Church is âsent into the world to continue the works of Jesus Christ.â He listed works such as preaching, teaching, healing, and acts of charity and justice.
Christians, empowered by the Holy Spirit, must âmake the name of Jesus known and loved,â the archbishop added, using a phrase of Archbishop emeritus Harry Flynn. The celebration of Christ âin word and sacramentâ is basic to this mission.
All the programs and activities of a parish can build up the Churchâs mission and should be prioritized for that purpose, the archbishop wrote.