After His death and resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples and sent the Holy Spirit upon them that they might continue His work of preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Through baptism we are incorporated into this mystery. Made partakers in His death and resurrection, we are commissioned to contribute to the Church’s mission. Each of us does so in a unique way, putting our individual gifts and talents at the service of Christ and His Gospel. Carrying out the work of the Church is our shared responsibility. Whether you are a cleric, consecrated religious, or lay man or woman, you have an important role to fulfill in the Church’s mission of bringing all people to know, love and follow the Lord.
The Second Vatican Council taught that the Church’s mission is essentially concerned with salvation, but “also includes the renewal of the whole temporal order” (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 5). Throughout history, human society has been damaged by many evils. It is for the Christian to share in the Spirit’s work of renewing the face of the earth (cf. Ps. 104:30). Such sanctification of the world is accomplished primarily through the ministry of the Word and the sacraments, which strengthen us to bring Christ’s presence and virtues into the world.
In addition to the many particular functions the laity may fulfill in the Church, whether at the parish or elsewhere in the diocese, they play an indispensable role in the renewal of the temporal order precisely because they are immersed in it. Through their work and relationships, lay men and women have the opportunity to bring the presence of Christ into every aspect of the civic arena, especially in the home and workplace.
Christian husbands and wives share and strengthen their faith with each other and their children. The role of parents in establishing the faith’s foundations in their children through example and practice is irreplaceable. They also help their children to discern and follow their vocation in life (cf. AA, 11).
Young people, as the Council taught, are “impelled by a zest for life and a ready eagerness to assume their own responsibility, and they yearn to play their part in social and cultural life. If this zeal is imbued with the spirit of Christ and is inspired by obedience and love for the Church, it can be expected to be very fruitful. They should become the first to carry on the apostolate directly to other young persons, concentrating their apostolic efforts within their own circle, according to the needs of the social environment in which they live” (AA, 12).
By their presence and witness, the laity can infuse a Christian spirit into society in a way that clerics or religious alone simply cannot. They are present to help their brothers and sisters wherever they work, study, reside and spend their leisure time. Their lives are to be conformed to their faith so that they become the light of the world. Generosity, charity, mutual concern, honesty and all the other virtues of the Heart of Christ should permeate all they do so their neighbors may be led to what is true and good, and ultimately to Christ Himself (cf. AA, 13).
Christ’s work of redeeming humanity and restoring the world to the goodness which it had in the beginning will not be accomplished without each of us responding to God’s call to do our part. Everything we do is an opportunity to build the Kingdom. Therefore, strengthened by His grace, let us bring Christ’s presence to a world in need!