Sunday, 9 January 2011

The Lord's Baptism and Our Own

This is the title given to the meditation in Magnificat for today. It is taken from Madeleine Delbrel's book We, the Ordinary People of the Streets. You can find a short account of Madeleine Delbrel in this earlier post.
Through his baptism, the Christian exchanged his freedom for the freedom of Christ. He is free because Christ is supremely free, but he no longer has the right to choose a state of life other than that of Christ, an action other than that of Christ, or a thinking other that that of Christ. This is the state of living faith. Faith is for him a fact, and all he can do is accept it. This state of life means being a child of God in Christ along with all his brothers and sisters who are with him in Christ. Standing before God and before the world, in God and in the world, it is together with all the others that the Christian is Christ. He is the whole Christ, the Christ-Church. This is a fact over which he has no control.....

The work of the Church is the salvation of the world; the world cannot be saved except by the Church. The Church is not the Church unless she saves. We are not the Christ-Church unless we are bringers of salvation. We are not bringers of salvation unless we are the Church. And we are not the Church unless we are the whole Church: each member belongs to the whole body. And we are not the whole Church unless we are in precisely the place meant for us in the Church, which is the same as saying that we are precisely in our place in the world, where the Church is made present through us.
This meditation prompts a couple of thoughts of my own. If our place in the world is precisely our place in the Church, then the priority of the genuinely lay activity of the lay person is going to be in the world rather than in the physical building or governing structures of the Church. And if, as Christ-Church, we represent the presence of the whole Church in our particular place in the world, then our activity in that place has an "authority" of its own. In being faithful to the teaching of the Church in their place in the world, the lay person has an authority that is a form of magisterium.

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