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The Profession of Faith

199

755

“The Church is a

cultivated field,

the tillage of God. On that land

the ancient olive tree grows whose holy roots were the prophets and in

which the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles has been brought about and

will be brought about again. That land, like a choice vineyard, has been

planted by the heavenly cultivator. Yet the true vine is Christ who gives

life and fruitfulness to the branches, that is, to us, who through the Church

remain in Christ, without whom we can do nothing.

147

756

“Often, too, the Church is called the

building

of God. The Lord

compared himself to the stone which the builders rejected, but which was

made into the corner-stone. On this foundation the Church is built by the

apostles and from it the Church receives solidity and unity. This edifice

has many names to describe it: the house of God in which his

family

dwells;

the household of God in the Spirit; the dwelling-place of God among men;

and, especially, the holy

temple.

This temple, symbolized in places of

worship built out of stone, is praised by the Fathers and, not without

reason, is compared in the liturgy to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. As

living stones we here on earth are built into it. It is this holy city that is seen

by John as it comes down out of heaven fromGod when the world is made

anew, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

148

757

“The Church, further, which is called ‘that Jerusalem which is

above’ and ‘our mother,’ is described as the spotless spouse of the spotless

lamb. It is she whom Christ ‘loved and for whom he delivered himself up

that he might sanctify her.’ It is she whom he unites to himself by an

unbreakablealliance,andwhomheconstantly‘nourishesandcherishes.’”

149

II.

T

he

C

hurch

s

O

rigin

, F

oundation

,

and

M

ission

758

We begin our investigation of the Church’s mystery by

meditating on her origin in the Holy Trinity’s plan and her pro-

gressive realization in history.

A plan born in the Father’s heart

759

“The eternal Father, in accordance with the utterly gratui­

tous and mysterious design of his wisdom and goodness, created

the whole universe and chose to raise up men to share in his own

divine life,”

150

to which he calls all men in his Son. “The Father . . .

determined to call together in a holy Church those who should

believe in Christ.”

151

This “family of God” is gradually formed and

takes shape during the stages of human history, in keeping with

the Father’s plan. In fact, “already present in figure at the beginning

147

LG 6;

cf.

1 Cor

3:9;

Rom

11:13-26;

Mt

21:33-43 and parallels;

Isa

5:1-7;

Jn

15:1-5.

148

LG

6; cf.

1 Cor

3:9;

Mt

21:42 and parallels;

Acts

4:11;

1 Pet

2:7;

Ps

118:22;

1 Cor

3:11;

1 Tim

3:15;

Eph

2:19-22;

Rev

21:3;

1 Pet

2:5;

Rev

21:1-2.

149

LG

6; cf.

Gal

4:26;

Rev

12:17; 19:7; 21:2, 9; 22:17;

Eph

5:25-26, 29.

150

LG

2.

151

LG

2.

795

797

857

1045

507, 796

1616

257

293

1655