Reflection & Dialogue: “As the Father has sent me…”. Continuity in Christ’s mission to our own day.
After his resurrection, in the upper room in his first appearance to his disciples Jesus said: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 21:21). This would be to the whole world. During his public life Jesus chose twelve special apostles, to represent a new Israel, and sent the out, not to the whole world but to only to his own people, lost sheep of the house of Israel. By the choice of the Twelve and this first mission, accompanied by his lengthy missionary discourse, Jesus had clearly the continuity of his mission in mind. After his resurrection at a pre-determined mountain in Galilee, where his mission in Israel began, the chosen band were sent to preach the Gospel to the ends of earth, to make disciples and to baptize and to teach those baptized to obey everything that that Jesus had commanded them. Fidelity to the Gospel tradition would be central to the development of this that came with Paul’s mission. After Paul’s departure this fidelity would be stressed in letters in Paul’s name to Timothy (1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:12, 14), where Timothy is told to guard “the deposit”, a word in modern translations rendered as “what has been entrusted” to him. This has been regarded as the deposit of faith. In its Constitution on Divine Revelation (paragraph 10) the Vatican Council has spoken of this deposit. “Sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture make up a single deposit of the Word of God, which is entrusted to the Church. By adhering to it the entire holy people, united with its pastors, remains faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in written form or in the form of tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. Yet the Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant”.
By the nature of the case there has in this matter been dialogue down through the centuries, and there is still in our own day, between the Church and its members and society. The deposit of faith is not a self-contained body of truths. The Word of God, from the Gospel and the Apostles onwards, has been embodied in particular historical situations and mental frameworks, regarding for instance slavery, the place of women, sexual behaviour, elements of bread and wine for the Eucharist, water for baptism. It will be for Church authority to determine what of this is historically conditioned, and what of the deposit. The dialogue goes on in our own day, with regard to ordination of women to the priesthood, or diaconate, questions relating to homosexual relations and a number of other points of doctrine and practice. It is all part of the living continuity with Christ’s mission and the mission of the Church in the modern world.
There is also continuity between Christ and his Church through the example of Christ. He lives in the ministers of his Church. Anyone who receives and
welcomes them, welcomes Christ; anyone who supports them, even in the smallest way such as a cup of cold water or small contributions to mite boxes or other forms of petitions, supports Christ, and in Christ’s own words will certainly not lose their reward.

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