Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 6, 2000
The family of faith
Collins describes Church as disciples formed into a community
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
As time had been spent preparing for the new millennium, time should now be spent living in the new millennium.
And as the members of the Church, living in this new millennium means walking through it as a family of faith, said Archbishop Thomas Collins.
Collins spoke to about 500 people at St. Andrew's Church Feb 29. The talk was the first in a three-part series on the mission of the people of God in the third millennium.
"We need to reflect on our individual role in the Church," Collins said. "How we participate not only through specific actions, joining this group or that group, but the way in which we participate through our very lives, in the life of the community, in the family of faith on this journey in time."
The most important aspect of this Church, said Collins, is its role as a community.
Jesus does with people today as he did with the Apostles, he said. "He called them each by name. . . . He met them individually, but gathered them together as a community."
With this community comes a purpose. We are all called "to be servants to the service of God - that is our mission."
This mission is accomplished not just by the religious or ordained population of the Church, but the community, each of whom, as a member of the family of God, has a different vocation.
"Because the Church is not the priest, the Church is not the laity," Collins said. "The Church is the people of God . . . all together working in relationship with each other."
This community is one of "frail human" beings, but filled with the Spirit. It's a community of word and sacrament. It is an ordered and apostolic community with history and traditions. Most importantly, it is a community which reaches outward to those in need and to those who have strayed.
In understanding what the family of faith looks like, Collins refers to the Gospels that narrated how the disciples were called and how they were formed into Apostles to serve God.
God has called us to be part of this family and "to live in the image and likeness of God," Collins said.
This call "to live in relationships of generous love" does not mean that we will physically change throughout our lives. Being called does not eliminate or change our personality, interests or intelligence; it simply transforms us to something better.
"At the end of life a holy person is what he was before, but only transformed," Collins said.
The calling God had for his people 2,000 years ago is no different than the call he has for them today, whether it be to fulfill the vocations of religious life, ordination or married life. These are universal timeless callings.
And just as the disciples of yesteryears, today's people of God are a "motley crew."
"He calls us to be what we were meant to be, but loves us for what we are," Collins said.
In this imperfect community, elitism is also discouraged, said Collins.
"Elitism has no place within the Church. We walk together as struggling sinners. We work to be better, but not to be elite."
The forming of this family can be seen in the images of the Last Supper when the Apostles were called to unite with Jesus before his death. As they were linked to him, so are the Christians of today linked to him through the Eucharist, Collins said.
Collins added, like the Apostles, we are also transformed by the resurrection and ascension of Christ.
This journey of faith is not a solo one. Throughout the evening, Collins reiterated the importance of the journey to be taken by a family or community of faith. And for this, we need the Church.
We need to respect the sacraments, particularly the sacrament of Reconciliation, said Collins who tries to make it to Confession every three weeks.
"We come out (of Confession) squeaky clean, but two seconds later the temptation comes back to us. But the Lord is always guiding us to the Promised Land. The Lord is with us every step of the way."
This journey also includes our homage to the Blessed Virgin Mary and her importance in our lives because she is "the perfect Christian," Collins said.
"She is the mother of Christ therefore the mother of the Church. She is in the midst of the Church pointing to Jesus.
"We do her the greatest honour by following her pointing to Christ in the midst of the Church."
Collins' talks continue March 7 with Feasting at the Table of the Lord and March 14 with Moving Outward: the Disciples of Jesus face the New Millennium. Both talks begin at 7 p.m. at St. Andrew's Church.