Part 7: One church! One mission!

Friday, November 20, 2015 - Updated: 6:00 am
By Bishop William J. WALtersheid

The Acts of the Apostles recounts for us the life of the early church. We hear that the apostles were a "community of believers of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all" (Acts 4:32-33). This quote reflects the unity of the church and a single mission. We, as the apostolic church, are to be "cor unum," that is, "one heart," and are to continue the mission of proclaiming the Good News.

It is important to recognize that the source of this being of "one heart" comes from God. Jesus proclaimed that he and the Father are one (John 10:30). In following Christ, the apostles learned what it means to be unified. They learned that to be "one" with God means to surrender our own will so that his will may be done. They lived out this unity by breaking bread together, praying together and sharing their resources. They were truly "cor unum." Today we may ask, "How do we continue to live out this unity of heart?"

As Jesus called his apostles to become one with him in his saving mission, so he calls each of us. This oneness in mission has been passed down through the life of the church to our very day. It is our gift for today, our heritage for tomorrow. We too are called then to be one with God through Jesus, one with his church and one in Jesus to live out his mission.

Bishop David Zubik reminds us of this call to be "one" through the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative. He is asking each of us, as baptized children of God, to be unified not only in our parishes but with the entire Diocese of Pittsburgh. It is through the diocese that we are connected to the church in the rest of the world. This unity, for every Catholic, begins with faithfully coming together to share in the Eucharistic meal each Sunday. From this nourishment we make opportunities to pray together, deepen our understanding of our faith, and share our resources and talents, all to further the mission of salvation.

Jesus came into our world as the Living Word. He preached the Good News, suffered, died and rose on the third day. He remains with us in the church today. Through our baptism, each of us is called to own the truth that the church continues to teach and to share in Christ’s mission. His mission is our mission. Like Christ, we must endeavor to unite our will with God’s will so that we can authentically live the mission of Christ and bring others to him.

Before his death on the cross, Jesus prayed for us to be one as he and the Father are one (John 17:11). May his prayer for us to be "cor unum" be realized in each of us today.

Bishop Waltersheid is auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh, episcopal vicar for clergy, and secretary for clergy and consecrated life.

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