Canadian Council of Churches - 75 Years

Rev Dr Gilles Mongeau, SJ, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

God’s deepest desire for us has always been to include us in the very life of love that binds Father, Son and Spirit. In the midst of sin, violence and death, this love takes the form of patient and faithful labours to reconcile us to him, to one another and to all creation. In the world of sin and violence, we are always already caught up in – infested by – patterns of envy and pride, and our relationships with one another, with God and with creation are disordered and inevitably lead to personal moral impotence, social injustice, cultural decline and isolation from God. God’s faithful labours to liberate us climax in the incarnation, life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, the Son of God.

The Cross is the climax of a life totally offered to the Father, and is thus best understood as Christ making of his unjust execution by the Roman and Jewish powers an offering of himself to God out of love for the Father and for us. This love, which a small minority witnesses, is a “counter-infection” that touches them and evokes in them friendship with God. This renewed friendship with the Father in Christ by the Spirit transforms them: it establishes right relationship with God, self, others and creation (justification); it constitutes a new people, a small community in history living justly together; it provides new cultural meanings that bind that community and ground their common living; it also provides practices and sacraments that not only heal and reconcile, but elevate them (as pure gift) to a communion with God they could not otherwise achieve.

This community exists by the Spirit as the Body of Christ, not for itself, but to bear witness to God’s desire and labours to bring all creation back to communion, to give praise to God for Christ’s victory over sin and the power of death. One is not a Christian in order to be saved. One is saved by God, receives the gift of knowing this in Christ by the Spirit, and so one becomes a servant of Christ’s mission to redeem all of creation for the Father.

Why be a Christian? To bear witness to the communion with God that God has made possible in Christ, through the reconciling power of the Gospel and the Cross, confirmed by the Father at Easter and claiming all of history through the life-giving power of the Spirit.