Over at The Catholic Weekly, we continue our look at Models of the Church:
Most people, when they think of the Church, think of this model of the Church first and, unfortunately, last.
This reductionist approach sees the Church, not as the entire Body of Christ in union with the bishops and Peter, stretching back through time to the apostles and forward into eternity embracing all the saved in heaven and earth, but simply as the hierarchy. It is like reducing a human body to its skeleton.
Now the Church of Office is a vital part of the Body of Christ, like the skeleton. But like the skeleton, it exists for a purpose, not for itself. Nor is it the most important model of the Church. That model is the Marian model of discipleship, for which the Church of Office exists and without which the Church of Office does not matter a whit and has no point.
Just as the law is made for man and not man for the law, just as the state exists for the good of the citizen and not the citizen for the state, so the Petrine Church of Office exists for one reason: so that the Disciple can know, love, and serve God. If it is not doing that work, it is wasting its time.
The function of the Church of Office is nicely summarised by Paul: “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph 4:12–13).