People of God

20 Jan 2019 by SHRCChurch, Comments Off on People of God

We whose native language is English need to be aware that when we call ourselves the Catholic Church, our vocabulary does not match the terminology of the Scriptures. The word Church can mean a body of people, but also an institution or simply a building.

The Scriptural terminology puts the focus on the assembly of God, i.e. on the community of people aspect. Thus, Vatican Council II simply called us “the people of God”. By the way, it did not mean that everyone was equal or the same, in the modern sense of democracy, but rather that each has a role to play within the community assembly.

So, in today’s reading from St. Paul, he lists the great variety of roles provided by the Holy Spirit, all of which are intended for the common good of the assembly. We each have our own unique gifts, meant to serve not ourselves, but the community. One of the great experiences of community is sharing a banquet together – an experience often missing in contemporary life, which tends to look upon eating as a purely material function for the nourishment of the body without any “community” dimension.

It is not mere coincidence that Jesus worked his first sign of the new creation by enhancing a banquet (today’s Gospel). Nor is it a coincidence that he bequeathed to us contact with His saving act under the sign of a community meal (Eucharist). We need to repent of our rugged individualism and consider our role as a member of a community.

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