Reflections on the Clergy-Laity 2016 Theme

Clergy-Laity Congress Theme Article - Part II

“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,

We continue our focus on the theme for our 43rd Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress by studying the content of the voice of Christ.  As we are sent by Him to be the light of the world, to be His voice, it is essential that we know His voice, and we are able to offer the Gospel in a changing world.  In the first article we affirmed that we know the voice of Christ as we live in His presence and are connected to Him in faith.  We hear His voice offering truth, guidance, and assurance, and we respond by following His will.  We hear His voice as our Lord sends us into the world to speak to others about what we see and experience in Christ.

With this understanding of how we know and share the voice of Christ, it is important to examine all that we offer as His voice in this changing world.  First, the message we share as the voice of Christ is one of hope.  In the Gospel we see hope in His ministry and words.  Through the truth and healing Jesus offered, hope was renewed in the lives of many.  His presence engenders hope in our lives; and in a world that is challenged by constant change, where many are struggling to find meaning and purpose, we offer hope as His voice.

Second, the voice of Christ is the voice of truth.  Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6)  His words offer divine wisdom and reveal the will of God.  His voice illuminates truth in a world where many are searching or are misguided by false ideologies.  Our faithful witness of the Gospel of truth ensures that His voice is heard.  Through our worship of God, through our ministry of compassion, and through our lives of holiness, we speak the truth as revealed to us by Christ, guiding others to find purpose and fulfillment in Him.

Third, the voice of Christ is filled with grace.  Our calling to share the love of God as revealed by Christ is affirmed by the Apostle Paul as the highest calling we have: But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)  Christ came and revealed God’s great love for us.  His teaching and healing were filled with grace.  His voice through us calls all to come and receive forgiveness and be saved by grace.

Fourth, in truth and grace the voice of Christ through us reveals divine power.  It is a voice that is bold and strong.  We speak with assurance in the promises of God.  As we see in the Holy Scriptures, His voice brings healing, removes spiritual blindness, and calls us back from the path of sin into abundant life.  The voice of Christ through us speaks clearly and powerfully in the face of adversity, persecution, and even the threat of death, offering a witness of truth and faith.

Fifth, the voice of Christ is the voice of life.  He said, I am the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25)  He also said: I came so that they (i.e. the people) may have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)  In Christ we find abundant and eternal life.  We are sent by Him to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14) and to speak His voice, offering life to all.

Sixth, the voice of Christ is an invitation.  He says to us and through us as His voice, Come, follow me. (Matthew 19:21)  As the Bridegroom preparing the banquet of eternal life and communion with God, He directs us to go out and extend this great invitation to all: Go out into the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. (Luke 14:23)  As His voice our words and our lives must be an invitation to come and see all the great and marvelous things our Lord has done and to experience grace and life in Him.

Finally, our voice becomes the voice of Christ.  Through our faith in Him, from our experience of His presence and power, through lives that are being transformed by grace and truth, we offer the voice of Christ.  It is His voice that becomes our voice because we live in Him.  We speak for Him not only because of the message He gives us, but because of the real experience of our lives and the focus of our faith—because of our challenges, joys, struggles and victories as we make this journey of faith and follow the ways of the Lord.  We speak from our spiritual knowledge and our life experiences.  As we live each day in the presence of Christ, as we hear His voice guiding us in love, as we follow His will and see His power in and through us, we know that we are the voice of Christ.

Archbishop of America