The Communion of Saints
What is the Communion of Saints?
When the mother of Jesus and his family arrived, they stood outside the house where he was teaching. They sent someone inside with a message: "We're here to take you home."
The people who sat around Jesus said, "Hey! Your mother and your family are outside. They want you."
"Who is my mother?" Jesus replied. "Where is my family?" Then, he looked at those who sat around him in a circle. "Look at my mother and family. Whoever wants to do what God desires is my mother and my family!"
Based on Mark 3:31-35
Who is the family of Jesus? The real brothers and sisters of Jesus are those who listen to him and do God's will. We call those people "saints." Gathered together, the saints form a community called "the communion of saints." Another name for this community is the Church.
The communion of saints is held together what is shared in common: the sacraments (especially Eucharist), the work of the Spirit in the Church, and acts of charity. The sacraments bring us together in a very special way. When we receive Communion, for example, we share the Body and Blood of Christ not only with the Lord, but with each other. We become one with God and others in the Church.
God's Spirit also brings us closer to other Christians. We realize that God's Spirit is working in us, when we act for the good of others. We no longer act in selfish ways. And, the Spirit helps us recognize those who share our values and beliefs. We share prayer and acts of charity with others. We work as a team, to serve the needs of all.
As members of the communion of saints, we are not alone. We stand proudly with others. We pray and work together as a way to invite others to know God as we know him.
You are light for the people of the world. At night, the light from a city on a mountain top can't be hidden. No one lights a lamp to hide it under a basket. No, he places a lamp on a stand to spread light throughout the house. So, shine like light before everyone you meet. Then, they can see all the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.
Based on Matthew 5:14-16
Who Belongs To the Communion of Saints?
Early one next morning, Jesus arrived at the Temple. The people crowded around him. So he sat down and began to teach them. Suddenly, the religious leaders brought a very sinful woman. They stood her before everyone. Then they said to Jesus, "Teacher, we caught this woman doing something that broke God's Law. Moses told us to stone such women to death. Tell us what we should do!" They said this to force Jesus into saying something they could use against him.
But, Jesus bent over and wrote in the sand with his finger.
"Teacher, Teacher! What should we do?" they kept asking him.
So, Jesus straightened up and said, "Let the person who has never broken God's Law throw the first stone at her." Again, Jesus bent over and wrote in the sand. One by one, starting with the leaders, everyone who heard Jesus answer walked away. Soon, only Jesus and the woman were left. So Jesus straightened up. "Madame, isn't there anyone here who says you're guilty?"
"No one," the woman responded.
"Well, you're not guilty, then," Jesus told her. "Go your way. But don't break the Law again."
Based on John 8:2-11
Who belongs to the communion of saints? The story of the unfaithful wife gives us an answer. It is the community of sinners that Jesus forgives. That definition covers many people. The people in heaven already enjoy the forgiveness of Jesus and life with God. The people in purgatory are slowing realizing the forgiveness of Jesus. And, we on earth who say "yes" to the same forgiveness Jesus offered the sinful woman.
The people in the communion of saints share what they have with each other: their prayers and their acts of charity. That means the saints in heaven can pray for us. And we can pray and dedicate acts of charity for those in purgatory.
Death does not separate those in heaven from us. And it does not stop our prayers from helping those in purgatory. When Jesus rose from the dead, he destroyed death and gave us his eternal life. When we are with Jesus, we share in his life. The same life that brings us together with the people in heaven and purgatory. When we are one with Jesus, we are one with other followers, no matter where they are.
When we are with Jesus, we are his family. We are the Communion of Saints. We are his Church.