The Perspective of Justice

A Truly Catholic Spirit

The Second Vatican Council declared that the church is ‘a universal sacrament of salvation,’ in other words, the people of God are a sign to the whole world announcing its salvation. The priestly function of this people is to mediate salvation; its prophetic function is to announce salvation to the world through its sanctifying presence in the world.

The problem is that too many of God’s people view this prophetic function within a limited context. They see it as a task of the leadership, somewhat like the old sedative, “Let Father do it.”

Today’s reading from the book of Numbers makes it clear that prophecy, the carrying of God’s message to the world, is not the special task of only a few people: “Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets!”

If only all Christians felt a commitment “to bring [God’s] pardon and [God’s] kingdom to all we meet!”

The Gospel takes this point a step further. Not only must God’s truth be spread through all of God’s people; it must also be spread by those who are “not of our company.”

Vatican II recognized that there is truth in all the world’s great religions as well as in its secular institutions, for as Jesus declared: “Anyone who is not against us is with us.”

Since the whole Church is missionary, ... the work of evangelization is a basic duty of the People of God. ... Therefore, all sons of the Church should have a lively awareness of their responsibility to the world. They should foster in themselves a truly catholic spirit. They should spend their energies in the work of evangelization.

Vatican II, Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church,
1965: 35-36

Gerald Darring
 

**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson