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Common Ground: CCC 1877-1896

by PastorWilliams on October 25th, 2017





“The vocation of humanity is to show forth the image of God and to be transformed into the image of the Father’s only Son. This vocation takes a personal form since each of us is called to enter into the divine beatitude; it also concerns the human community as a whole” (paragraph 1877).

The above statement, the thesis statement for this chapter on man’s vocation in relation to the world, contains a good gem and one that should be tossed. The vocation of humanity, before and after the Fall into sin, is to show God’s image to the world. To proclaim His salvation from day to day (Psalm 96:2). However, the part with the issue is that “each of us is called to enter into the divine beatitude.” While it can be understood properly, in the Catechism it leads toward a teaching and doctrine of works righteousness.

Every human being is created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). Sin has tarnished this image so that it is totally corrupted (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12). The Christian is reborn by water and the Holy Spirit through God’s Word into this image once again (John 3:5). As individuals, this image needs to be living and active in our lives. Christians should be well-known for their character (Romans 5:1-5). Christian love should be evident to all (John 13:35).

“The human person needs to live in society. Society is not for him an extraneous addition but a requirement of his nature” (paragraph 1879). Humans were created for community. God created Adam to have a relationship with Him. He created Eve because “it is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Adam and Eve were created to have community with each other and with God. People seek to be around other people. Even the strictest introverts understand that they need to be around people. They may stay in the background, but they are still there.

Since we live in community, and since we desire community with others, Christians have the duty to demonstrate God’s restored image to those who don’t have it. Therefore evangelism is very important to the growth of the Church and thereby the growth of those who will be in Heaven, having eternal and perfect community with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

Part of the built-in desire for community is the image of God. God is three Persons in one Essence. There is a relationship and community between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As humans have God’s image, they have this desire for community. Community is natural and necessary for man to survive.

However, when the Catechism declares that we should “enter into the divine beatitude” (paragraph 1877), it points to the progress of the Christian life in being like God. The Eastern Orthodox Church calls this progress “theosis.” The Roman Catholic Church calls it “divinization.” Both of these mean becoming divine, or like God. The Catechism points to the Incarnation as the basis for this doctrine: “The Word became flesh to make us ‘partakers of the divine nature'” (paragraph 460). Jesus became like us. Therefore we need to become like Him in this life. That becomes the goal of the Christian life in the Catechism.

Christians “enter into the divine beatitude” in Baptism. The divine beatitude declares the Christian to be a beloved child of God with all sins forgiven and eternal life as their inheritance. The divine beatitude isn’t something that we need to strive to obtain. It is ours already in our Baptism. It isn’t perfect in this life. It will not be perfect, or complete, until Jesus calls every Christian home to their eternal reward on the Last Day. Through our manifestation of God’s image in our lives, we seek to grow in the faith and the practice of those virtues which illustrate God’s love, compassion and redemption.

The rest of this chapter will discuss what a Christian should do to show forth God’s image in the face of a non-Christian or anti-Christian community.

From → Common Ground

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