The Church’s Mission
The Catholic Church believes that God is and should be the organizing principle of our lives and the source of all that we need, as against Satan’s forces who believe that men organized as governments are and should be the organizing principle of our lives and the source of all that we need.
Rabbi Yeshua’s mission for the Church is to make us saints, by our witness to his love for us, expressed most vividly in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood, first to Jews (“Jerusalem and in all Judea”) but also “to the end of the earth” Acts 1:8 during our long journey to heaven.
Rabbi Yeshua gave Holy Mother Church her mission of evangelization in Scripture at Mt 22:37–40, Mt 28:19–20, Jn 21:15–17 and Acts 1:8, in St. John Paul II,’s Redemptoris Missio, and in the Catechism § 849-856 and 2044-2046.
For now, Satan’s forces occupy the formative professions, the commanding heights of American culture. They are most of the public school teachers, college professors, politicians, entertainers, journalists, attorneys, and judges. These are the most prominent formative professions; collectively they form the perspectives of tens of millions of Americans. They have gravitated to these professions. Many devout Catholics, evangelicals and other conservatives live honest and productive lives in professions that were not chosen for their distributive potential. The engineers who design our cars and computers are often brilliant, but the days of their lives go by as they influence mainly their own children and immediate friends.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” Mt 22:37–40.
“You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” Acts 1:8.
Rabbi Yeshua said, “I am the good shepherd” Jn 10:11. The good shepherd asked Rabbi Kefa, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Rabbi Kefa replied, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Rabbi Yeshua said to Rabbi Kefa, ‘Feed my lambs’ Jn 21:15. A second time Rabbi Yeshua said to Rabbi Kefa, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Rabbi Kefa replied, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Rabbi Yeshua said to Rabbi Kefa, ‘Tend my sheep’ Jn 21:16. Rabbi Yeshua asked Rabbi Kefa a third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Rabbi Kefa was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And Rabbi Kefa said to Rabbi Yeshua, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Rabbi Yeshua said to him, ‘Feed my sheep’” Jn 21:17.
§ 1 The mission of Christ the Redeemer, which is entrusted to the Church, is still very far from completion. As the second millennium after Christ’s coming draws to an end, an overall view of the human race shows that this mission is still only beginning and that we must commit ourselves wholeheartedly to its service. It is the Spirit who impels us to proclaim the great works of God: “For if I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” 1 Cor 9:16.
In the name of the whole Church, I sense an urgent duty to repeat this cry of St. Paul. From the beginning of my Pontificate I have chosen to travel to the ends of the earth in order to show this missionary concern. My direct contact with peoples who do not know Christ has convinced me even more of the urgency of missionary activity, a subject to which I am devoting the present encyclical.
The Second Vatican Council sought to renew the Church’s life and activity in the light of the needs of the contemporary world. The Council emphasized the Church’s “missionary nature,” basing it in a dynamic way on the Trinitarian mission itself. The missionary thrust therefore belongs to the very nature of the Christian life, and is also the inspiration behind ecumenism: “that they may all be one…so that the world may believe that you have sent me” Jn 17:21.
§ 31, “First, there is the missionary activity which we call mission ad gentes, in reference to the opening words of the Council’s decree on this subject. This is one of the Church’s fundamental activities: it is essential and never-ending. The Church, in fact, cannot withdraw from her permanent mission of bringing the Gospel to the multitudes the millions and millions of men and women-who as yet do not know Christ the Redeemer of humanity. In a specific way this is the missionary work which Jesus entrusted and still entrusts each day to his Church.”
§ 32, “Today we face a religious situation which is extremely varied and changing. Peoples are on the move; social and religious realities which were once clear and well defined are today increasingly complex. We need only think of certain phenomena such as urbanization, mass migration, the flood of refugees, the de-Christianization of countries with ancient Christian traditions, the increasing influence of the Gospel and its values in overwhelmingly non-Christian countries, and the proliferation of messianic cults and religious sects. Religious and social upheaval makes it difficult to apply in practice certain ecclesial distinctions and categories to which we have become accustomed.”
§ 849 The missionary mandate. Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be the universal sacrament of salvation, the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age.”
§ 850 The origin and purpose of mission. The Lord’s missionary mandate is ultimately grounded in the eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity: The Church on earth is by her nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, she has as her origin the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit. The ultimate purpose of mission is none other than to make men share in the communion between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of love.
§ 851 Missionary motivation. It is from God’s love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigor of her missionary dynamism, for the love of Christ urges us on. Indeed, God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth; that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God’s universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary.
§ 852 Missionary paths. The Holy Spirit is the protagonist, the principal agent of the whole of the Church’s mission. It is he who leads the Church on her missionary paths. This mission continues and, in the course of history, unfolds the mission of Christ, who was sent to evangelize the poor; so the Church, urged on by the Spirit of Christ, must walk the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice even to death, a death from which he emerged victorious by his resurrection. So it is that the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.
§ 853 On her pilgrimage, the Church has also experienced the discrepancy existing between the message she proclaims and the human weakness of those to whom the Gospel has been entrusted. Only by taking the way of penance and renewal, the narrow way of the cross, can the People of God extend Christ’s reign. For just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and oppression, so the Church is called to follow the same path if she is to communicate the fruits of salvation to men.
§ 854 By her very mission, the Church travels the same journey as all humanity and shares the same earthly lot with the world: She is to be a leaven and, as it were, the soul of human society in its renewal by Christ and transformation into the family of God. Missionary endeavor requires patience. It begins with the proclamation of the Gospel to peoples and groups who do not yet believe in Christ, continues with the establishment of Christian communities that are a sign of God’s presence in the world, and leads to the foundation of local churches. It must involve a process of inculturation if the Gospel is to take flesh in each people’s culture. There will be times of defeat. With regard to individuals, groups, and peoples it is only by degrees that the Church touches and penetrates them and so receives them into a fullness which is Catholic.
§ 855 The Church’s mission stimulates efforts towards Christian unity. Indeed, divisions among Christians prevent the Church from realizing in practice the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her sons who, though joined to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all its aspects.
§ 856 The missionary task implies a respectful dialogue with those who do not yet accept the Gospel. Believers can profit from this dialogue by learning to appreciate better those elements of truth and grace which are found among peoples, and which are, as it were, a secret presence of God. They proclaim the Good News to those who do not know it, in order to consolidate, complete, and raise up the truth and the goodness that God has distributed among men and nations, and to purify them from error and evil for the glory of God, the confusion of the demon, and the happiness of man.
§ 2044 The fidelity of the baptized is a primordial condition for the proclamation of the Gospel and for the Church’s mission in the world. In order that the message of salvation can show the power of its truth and radiance before men, it must be authenticated by the witness of the life of Christians. The witness of a Christian life and good works done in a supernatural spirit have great power to draw men to the faith and to God.
§ 2045 Because they are members of the Body whose Head is Christ, Christians contribute to building up the Church by the constancy of their convictions and their moral lives. the Church increases, grows, and develops through the holiness of her faithful, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
§ 2046 By living with the mind of Christ, Christians hasten the coming of the Reign of God, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace. They do not, for all that, abandon their earthly tasks; faithful to their master, they fulfill them with uprightness, patience, and love.
The Catholic Mission and the Jews
St. John Paul II
Is missionary work among non-Christians still relevant? Has it not been replaced by inter-religious dialogue? Is not human development an adequate goal of the Church’s mission? Does not respect for conscience and for freedom exclude all efforts at conversion? Is it not possible to attain salvation in any religion? Why then should there be missionary activity?
In reply to the Jewish religious authorities who question the apostles about the healing of the lame man, Peter says: “By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well … And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10, 12). This statement, which was made to the Sanhedrin, has a universal value, since for all people — Jews and Gentiles alike — salvation can only come from Jesus Christ.
Second Exodus Mission
Second Exodus seeks to help all Israel discover her Mashiakh and thereby open the way for the Second Coming § 674. Rabbi Yeshua‘s revelation fulfills and completes the Father’s earlier revelation to Moses, so the ingrafting Rom 11:23 will complete the Catholic Church.
This mission is by God’s grace and power. Rabbi Yeshua told his first shlikhim, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” Mt 4:19. But he also told them, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” Jn 15:5. At the Sea of Tiberias, Rabbi Kefa and several of Rabbi Yeshua’s other shlikhim were fishing all night but caught nothing Jn 21:3. From the shore, the risen Rabbi Yeshua told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat Jn 21:6. These lifelong fishermen knew that in earthly terms fishing from the other side of the boat would only produce the same result, but Rabbi Yeshua had said it so they obeyed, and caught 153 fish Jn 21:11. At that time there were said to be 153 known species of fish, reminding us that Rabbi Yeshua would open his Church to men from every nation Acts 10:34–35.
Second Exodus does not reach out to Jews. We do not ring your doorbell or your telephone. We do not initiate contact in any way. We merely sit here silently in our small corner of cyberspace waiting for Rabbi Yeshua to bring whom he will. But we are Catholic. Rabbi Yeshua commanded us, “You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” Acts 1:8. “Jerusalem and in all Judea.” He put the Jews first Mt 10:6; 15:24. And so we say, “Hear O Israel!”