Friday, October 2, 2020

The missionary nature of the Church

As the Son was sent by the Father, so he sent the Apostles too (ref. Jn 8:21), saying: “Go, 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.” (Mt 28:19–20). The Church has received this solemn mandate of Christ to proclaim the saving truth from the apostles and must carry it out to the ends of the earth. (ref. Acts 1:8). Therefore she makes the words of the Apostle her own: “Woe to me, if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16), and continues unceasingly to send heralds of the Gospel until such time as the new churches are fully established and can themselves continue the work of evangelization. For the Church is compelled by the Holy Spirit to do her part so that God’s plan may be accomplished, whereby he has constituted Christ as the source of salvation for the whole world. By the proclamation of the Gospel, the Church prepares those who listen to it to receive and profess the faith. She prepares them for baptism, takes them away from the slavery of errors and incorporates them in Christ so that through charity, they may grow up into full maturity within him. Every disciple of Christ is responsible for the propagation of the faith as much as he can. In this way, the Church unites prayer and work so that the whole world may become the People of God, the Mystical Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and that in Christ, the Head of all, all honour and glory may be rendered to the Creator and Father of the Universe.

(Dogmatic constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, Pope Paul VI, No 17, November 21, 1964.)