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198

Part One

their assembly on Mount Sinai where Israel received the Law and

was established by God as his holy people.

140

By calling itself

“Church,” the first community of Christian believers recognized

itself as heir to that assembly. In the Church, God is “calling

together” his people from all the ends of the earth. The equivalent

Greek term

Kyriak,

from which the English word

Church

and the

German

Kirche

are derived, means “what belongs to the Lord.”

752

In Christian usage, the word “church” designates the litur-

gical assembly,

141

but also the local community

142

or the whole

universal community of believers.

143

These three meanings are

inseparable. “The Church” is the People that God gathers in the

whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as

a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life

from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes

Christ’s Body.

Symbols of the Church

753

In Scripture, we find a host of interrelated images and

figures through which Revelation speaks of the inexhaustible mys-

tery of the Church. The images taken from the Old Testament are

variations on a profound theme: the People of God. In the New

Testament, all these images find a new center because Christ has

become the head of this people, which henceforth is his Body.

144

Around this center are grouped images taken “from the life of the

shepherd or from cultivation of the land, from the art of building

or from family life and marriage.”

145

754

“The Church is, accordingly, a

sheepfold,

the sole and necessary

gateway to which is Christ. It is also the flock of which God himself foretold

that he would be the shepherd, and whose sheep, even though governed

by human shepherds, are unfailingly nourished and led by Christ himself,

the Good Shepherd and Prince of Shepherds, who gave his life for his

sheep.

146

140 Cf.

Ex

19.

141 Cf.

1 Cor

11:18; 14:19, 28, 34, 35.

142 Cf.

1 Cor

1:2; 16:1.

143 Cf.

1 Cor

15:9;

Gal

1:13;

Phil

3:6.

144 Cf.

Eph

1:22;

Col

1:18;

LG

9.

145

LG

6.

146

LG

6; cf.

Jn

10:1-10;

Isa

40:11;

Ezek

34:11-31;

Jn

10:11;

1 Pet

5:4;

Jn

10:11-16.

1140, 832

830

781, 789

857