Most Rev Peter A Comensoli
Synod intervention: A Church that grows young in Christ (Part II; Par.74)
Friends, young and old, I refer to par.74, and the call to rediscover a Church young in Christ.
To walk into the Sistine Chapel is to gaze upon the story of our humanity. There, in swathes of colour, is the story of our creation and redemption, from the First Adam to the Last.
At the centre of this vision stands the pinnacle of our humanity, Jesus Christ. He’s gigantic in proportions and majestic in presence. The once Crucified Lord now stands before all creation as the Bridegroom, striding out to meet his Bride. The Risen Jesus is glowing with vitality and beautiful to behold. And he is gloriously young!
Our Redeemer is young because he is alive. He radiates life. But if Jesus Christ is gloriously young, then His Body, the Church, is likewise meant to be young. This is the Church our young people want to discover, one that is vital and alive in Christ. Our task is to rediscover this young Church, as a new gospel fire.
But where might this fire be found? At Pentecost, when the Church was first young. There, the disciples were transfigured by the energising gift of the Spirit, discovering a new missionary horizon. They spoke to all of their life in the Crucified and Risen Jesus. Pentecost set off a Gospel fire in the disciples, anointing them and sending them out into the world.
The Church that strode out of the upper room was one of extraordinary missionary vitality and gospel joy. The Disciples did not wait for people to come to them; they got up and went out. They were the first inter-generational missionaries: Peter with John; Mother Mary with Mary Madeline; Paul with Timothy. The Church was alive, energetic, and young in Christ.
But is this a true description of the Church of today? Are we, the Successors of the Apostles, also the Successors of their Acts? Or have we stagnated in the Spirit, lost our missionary fire, and become beholden to a ‘fake gospel’ of religious maintenance? Then let a pebble of spiritual disruption be dropped into our stagnant pools, to stir us back to Pentecost!
It is time to leave behind a Church that only sits around waiting. Our task is to rediscover a young church that goes out; not to re-create a Church for the young to come to.
My dear young friends: you live in a world that is often difficult for us older generations to comprehend, and sometimes you venture down paths that leave us concerned for you.
Yet you are also seekers of a Gospel horizon within which to locate your lives. You hope for faithful witnesses in whom you can place your trust. You seek true guides who will welcome your abundant energies and accompany you on the journey.
Friends, you yearn for this because you are horizon hunters! You are seekers of the fire of a new Pentecost, and pursuers of a young Church willing to start afresh from Christ. May we discover this horizon together.