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Chapter 10. The Church: Reflecting the Light of Christ • 121

require time, money, and effort for their maintenance. Since the Second

Vatican Council highlighted the Church as the People of God, does this

not mean that our energies should be focused on people, not buildings,

committees, laws, and rules? Should we not recapture the simplicity

of Christ’s relationship with his disciples and the intimacy of the early

Church as described in the Acts of the Apostles?

In response, we would say this is not an “either/or” situation. There

is no doubt that the Church is called to be a community of love in

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The risen Jesus himself pre-

sented a model of Church leadership based in love when he solicited

three affirmations of love from Peter (cf. Jn 21:15-17). At the same time,

though, the Church has many structures that are needed to build up the

bond of love.

Jesus himself established one of those structures of the Church when

he named Peter as the rock of the Church, the head of the Apostles (Mt

16:18). While St. Paul taught us that love is the greatest gift of the Holy

Spirit (1 Cor 13:1-13), he also listed administration as a gift of the Spirit

(1 Cor 12:28).

The Church needs an institutional framework for its stability, con-

tinuity, and mission for serving the cause of the Gospel and opening

people to God’s call to holiness. Problems with the institution are not

arguments for its removal, but for its renewal. Just as the Son of God

took on our human flesh and just as a soul needs a body, so a community

needs to be organized to serve and be served. The Church is a commu-

nity that is served by a multiplicity of structures.


1. How is the Church viewed as a mystery? What would you see as the

link between the Church as mystery and your faith?

2. Why is the image of the Church as People of God important?What is

meant by the description of the Church as a Sacrament of Salvation?

3. How does the understanding of the Church as Body of Christ shape

your faith? Why is the link between the Holy Spirit and the Church

so vital?