Reflections on the Clergy-Laity 2016 Theme

Clergy-Laity Congress Theme Article - Part I

“You are the Voice of Christ in a Changing World”

As the Father has sent me, so I send you (John 20:21).  You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

With anticipation we look forward to the fellowship, worship, and ministry when we gather July 3-8 for our 43rd Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress in Nashville, Tennessee.  The theme for the Congress is “You are the Voice of Christ in a Changing World.”  This theme affirms our vital mission in this world, as we have been sent by Christ to proclaim the Gospel, to share truth in love, to be His voice.  Our Lord said to His disciples, and He continues to say to us today, As the Father has sent me, so I send you (John 20:21).  You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

As we prepare for our Clergy-Laity Congress and consider the implications of our Lord’s commission for our work throughout this Holy Archdiocese, it is important that we reflect prayerfully on this theme.  In this first of a series of articles, our focus is on the importance of knowing Christ in order to be the voice of Christ.  If we are to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth, if we are to speak a message of hope into lives filled with despair, if we are to proclaim salvation and victory over sin and death in a constantly changing world, we must know Christ.

In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul offers us guidance in the importance of knowing Christ.  He writes, Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and may share His suffering (Philippians 3:8-10).  From this proclamation of faith, we can see that it is essential to know Christ in order to be His voice.  We must seek Him above all things.  He is the source of our life and hope.  He has entered our humanity for our salvation, revealing the grace of God and showing us the way to restore our communion with our Creator.  We gather in His presence, receive Him in the Holy Eucharist, and offer Him praise and adoration.  His is our life, our peace, our joy, and our eternity.  We must count everything else as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ.

Knowing Christ and becoming His voice is the result of living all aspects of our lives in Him.  In His presence and love we grow in the knowledge of our faith.  We experience and become witnesses of the righteousness of God.   Our lives reveal the power of His resurrection.  All that we say and do becomes the voice of Christ, revealing grace, life and truth, because we know Him.  This is where our knowledge of Him and our experience of Him come together so that we are able to show to the world a true image of our Savior and Redeemer.  Our knowledge of Christ and the blessings of our relationship with Him lead us to proclaim with the Apostles, We cannot but speak of the things we have seen and heard (Acts 4:20). 

From the blessings of our knowledge of Christ, we are sent by Him to share the Gospel in a changing world.  We are sent to offer a message of grace, light and salvation that is truth and life no matter what happens or how things change around us.  From our knowledge of Christ we have this assurance, that we are sent in the power of His resurrection, and thus we have boldness to speak for Him in all places, under any circumstances, because we are the light of the world.

In the next article we will discuss the content of the message we offer as the voice of Christ.  I ask in preparation for further reflection and for our Clergy-Laity Congress that you consider our theme, your relationship with Christ, and your knowledge of Him.  In the words of the Apostle Peter, I encourage you to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:18).

With paternal love in Him,

Archbishop of America