“I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church…”
This fourth and final section of the Creed describes the Church as one, holy, catholic and apostolic. The Church is a people gathered together through the Spirit of love, to reconcile the world in Christ and to bring all people into communion with each other and with the Father.
A human institution, yes, but in its very humanity a God gathered people, the Church is the instrument, indeed the sacrament of God offering the gift of salvation won by Christ for all creation. The Church has an intrinsically missionary orientation as it seeks to serve humanity by proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed, to all people.
The Church’s diversity and universality is a mark of her catholicity whereby she brings the whole wealth of human existence, in all its languages, to God. In the work of reconciliation the Church constantly strives to be a sign of unity and peace among all peoples and a witness of universal salvation in Christ under the one God.
The apostolic nature of the Church means that it still participates in the same mission of Christ through the apostles, bishops and laity through their common baptism. We are all charged with the responsibility of being witnesses to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Christian Baptism is the gateway or initiation rite that imprints the fundamental pattern of Christian life on the believer and welcomes the believer into the Christian community. Each baptised person clothes themselves in Jesus Christ and thus begins a journey from slavery to freedom, from death to life and from self-centredness to a generous loving existence. Baptism is birth into Christian life, incorporation into the life of the Trinity and liberation from sin. However, between our baptism and our death, we discover our human frailty and we know that we make many mistakes. Our life is indeed an ongoing struggle to accept the reality of our baptismal liberation from sin while at the same time very much aware of our propensity to failure and sin. Yet, we have faith and hope, and know that God ‘wins out’.
Since we believe in the resurrection of Christ from the dead, we also believe that we will live for ever through our sharing in Christ’s resurrection. Through the Holy Spirit, Christian life on earth is a participation in the death and resurrection of Christ. We are united to Christ in baptism and so we already participate in the heavenly life of the risen Christ, but this life remains ‘hidden in Christ’ until that day when we rise on the last day and appear with Him in glory. The ultimate gift of the Incarnation is that God has revealed through Christ, that we will live forever in glory with God, when the Church attains its fulfilment in the communion of saints.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad! Alleluia!