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The Co-responsibility of the Lay Faithful in the Church and the World

I. What is Christian Responsibility?

1. “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. . . . We love because he first loved us.”1 The life of a Christian is first of all a response to the love of God. When we hear the word “responsibility” we often think of obligations and duties, but Christian responsibility ultimately means a response to that original love of God offered to us in Jesus Christ. Christ expresses this love by incorporating us into his Body in Baptism. We belong to him and thus belong to that community where he is uniquely present in the world, his Church. Only with this awareness can we begin to respond to his love.

2. What, then, is this responsibility of the Christian? It is to respond to God’s love, given for the salvation of the world. Through Baptism, every Christian receives incomparable dignity and a noble mission: bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world. Because Baptism makes us part of Christ’s body, which is the Church, we never respond to him alone. Just as we form one body in Christ, so our response to God’s call is always lived out in harmony with the other parts of the body of Christ. As Saint Paul told the Corinthians, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body . . . and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12.12-13).

3. This is why the particular responsibility each person has within the Church is not separable from the responsibility that all Christians have by virtue of their Baptism. St. John Paul II made this clear: “Because of the one dignity flowing from Baptism, each member of the lay faithful, together with ordained ministers and men and women religious, shares a responsibility for the Church’s mission.”2 A Christian cannot carry out this mission in isolation, but only in communion with the entire People of God.

Read more at Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

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