Storytelling Storytellers not only pass on the stories of their communities, but they contribute to the development of the language people use to communicate these stories. The great storytellers provide insights into the meaning and purpose of life. They speak to the universal themes that are part of human life. What stories have helped you understand the meaning of human life? God, the author of Sacred Scripture, and the inspired human writers of Scripture are the most widely read storytellers. The Bible is available in over 450 languages, and parts of it are available in more than 2,000 languages. The Nativity The Church gathers to celebrate the wondrous event of the Nativity each year during the liturgical season of Christmas. We celebrate that the Son of God became a man while remaining God. We celebrate that Jesus Christ is true God and true man; he is fully divine and fully human. The Church uses the term ‘hypostatic union’ to name this mystery of faith. Why did God become man? The Incarnation is ‘the fact [and mystery] that the Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it’ (CCC, no. 461). St. Bernard of Clairvaux (c.1090-1153) taught: God became man in Jesus in order to know us ‘from the inside’ and thus be all the more likely to be merciful toward us. What insights into the meaning of the Incarnation does St. Bernard’s explanation give you? The first promise of salvation This first promise of salvation is found in Genesis 3:15. It is known as the Protoevangelium. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head and you will strike his heel. The Annunciation In Luke’s account of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38), the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that God has chosen her to be the Mother of the Son of God and she is to name him Jesus. The name Jesus in Hebrew means ‘God saves’. In Matthew’s account of the Annunciation (Matthew 1:18-21, 24) an angel tells Joseph in a dream that Mary has conceived a child by the Holy Spirit and that he should not be afraid to take Mary as his wife. Jesus is God with us Jesus is Emmanuel; he is God with us. He is the bridge, or Mediator, between humanity and God. God became one of us and lived among us for our salvation. The name ‘Jesus’ means ‘God saves’. Jesus is the Messiah who freed us from our sins by his suffering and Death on the Cross and brought about our reconciliation with God the Father. Jesus described his mission as Messiah in Luke 4:18-19. Jesus is the way that God most fully comes into our lives, draws us close, and reconciles us with himself. Jesus is with us always The risen Jesus promised, ‘Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20). The presence of the Incarnate Son of God did not end with the saving Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus. The risen and glorified Christ continues to be ‘God-withus’. Christ’s presence and saving work will continue until he comes again in glory at the end of time. This is referred to as his Second Coming, or Parousia. Only then will the work of the Messiah be complete. The Church is the seed of the Kingdom of God The Church is the seed and beginning of the Kingdom of God inaugurated by Jesus. The Church connects people to God and to one another. She does this through celebrating the Sacraments and in other ways. The Church works with people in education, pastoral ministry, social justice, healthcare, faith formation and in building and rebuilding communities. In what ways do you recognize yourself as ‘being’ the Church to other people? The Ministries of the Church As the Body of Christ in the world, we have the vocation, mission and responsibility to make the saving presence of Christ a reality in the world. Each of the baptized fulfils this work according to their roles and responsibilities within the Church. Ministry of the Word: The baptized are called to proclaim Christ, the Word of God, to the ends of the earth. We must welcome God’s Word which comes to us through Scripture and Tradition and bring that Word to others. The Ministries of the Church Ministry of Witness: As members of the Catholic Church we must bear witness to Jesus by living lives of faith, hope and love. We are called to proclaim Christ not only in words but also in works, or deeds. Ministry of Worship: We encounter Jesus most directly through our celebration of the Seven Sacraments, which are life-giving actions of the Holy Spirit at work in the Church. We receive specific graces to live and celebrate our life in Christ and share it with others. In what small but important ways can you bear witness to Jesus? Cesar Chávez Cesar Chávez (1927-93) was a Mexican American farm worker, civil rights activist and labor leader. He championed economic and social issues, including opposing racial discrimination. Chávez founded the National Farm Workers Association, an organization to protect and serve farm workers, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW) of America. He worked at improving the dignity, respect, wages, medical benefits and conditions of farm workers throughout the US. Chevez was a devout Catholic who often said that his struggle for justice was inspired and sustained by his deep Catholic faith.
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