ARCHBISHOP Bathersby’s Advent Pastoral Letter presented all people of faith in this archdiocese with a very important challenge as we prepare to celebrate the entrance of Christ into human history once again in the coming weeks and apply our faith experiences to the Synod of 2003 a little further down the track.
The challenge was for all of us to engage as much as we can in the mission of our Church. It is not something optional, as he highlighted, but rather an integral part of what it means to be part of the Church.
Advent should be a time for us to reflect on whether we are contributing all we can to furthering the reign of God in our time.
If we only pay lip service to what we proclaim in our creed each Sunday then we are not effective witnesses to the Gospel.
We cannot afford to be spectators, but rather we must be active participants.
Every one of us must contribute our various gifts to the life of the Church both locally and abroad.
It is vital to reflect on the meaning of his statement ‘communion and mission cannot be separated’.
For it is as a communion of faith-filled people that we share, in Archbishop Bathersby’s words, ‘the transformation of the world according to the vision of Christ, in order to create a civilisation of love’.
At the heart of this transformation is a desire for all to live in ‘justice, peace and freedom’.
This communion and mission of Church must be lived out in our archdiocese, in our parishes and faith communities if it is to bear an authentic witness and if it is to inspire those outside our Church to consider joining us on our common faith journey.
Part of living in community or communion in this way means an end to persecuting or ‘dobbing in’, in the name of orthodoxy, those who may have a different way of expressing their faith and devotion.
Rather, such differences present us with a rich opportunity for an inclusive dialogue learning what we can from each other – it may even prove to enrich the faith of all! As Jesus reminds us: ‘Whoever is not against us is for us’ (Mark 9:40).
At this point in our history, with the recent horrific atrocities committed by some in the name of their version of God, the mission and the transformation required for the reign of God in our world and in our Church has rarely been as urgent as it is now.
BRAYDEN ARGENT Archdiocesan director Catholic Mission Brisbane, Qld