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Chapter 23: God’s Redemptive Work in the Lives of Christians


We have seen (19‑B) that integral human fulfillment is fulfillment in Jesus. In the intervening chapters, we have seen how God is working to accomplish his plan of salvation, which reaches its climax in Jesus’ free acceptance of death and his glorious resurrection. But God carried out his saving work in Jesus’ human life in such a way that we can be united with him. The present chapter will therefore unfold the implications of Jesus’ life for Christian life, focusing on our own human acts—the subject of moral theology. Indeed, the remainder of the book will do this, for the present chapter provides an overview whose important details will be treated in subsequent chapters through chapter thirty-three.

The central actions which organize a Christian’s life are, in practice, the sacraments, which will be treated explicitly in chapters thirty to thirty-three. In the present and following chapters, up to twenty-nine, however, the sacramental perspective will remain implicit; the treatment will first provide a preliminary synthesis, and the chapters on the sacraments will then provide the final, unifying vision of the way of the Lord Jesus.

Thus, the present chapter is an overview of the following points. By their fundamental option of faith Christians are united with Jesus in a communion they celebrate in the Eucharist. Their common vocation is to follow Jesus by fulfilling his commandments, particularly his command to love others as he has loved them. Each Christian also has a personal vocation which involves prophetic responsibility—that is, the duty to share with other men and women the marvelous gifts the Christian receives in baptism and the Eucharist. This prophetic responsibility means that Christians must know, accept, and try to fulfill a single, harmonious set of true moral standards. Catholics are helped to do this by the Church’s moral teaching, to which a faithful Catholic conscience conforms in detail.

We are allowed to share in redemption not only by being redeemed but even by helping to redeem ourselves and others. United in the Mass with Jesus’ central commitment and the act by which he most perfectly carries it out, each of us is called to live a unique life which will contribute to the completion of Jesus’ redemptive work. Our prophetic responsibility as Christians requires that our deeds carry out and bear witness to our faith in Jesus. To fulfill this responsibility, close adherence to the moral teaching of the Church is essential.