Development of the Living Church
The celebrated English convert, John Henry Cardinal Newman, pointed out that the Catholic Church can be likened to a tiny acorn which grows into a tree—though it looks entirely different, it remains in its essence, the same thing. Likewise, a human grows from a tiny child to an adolescent through adulthood to old age, yet he remains the same person with the same DNA.
So too the Church grows and develops as the living Body of Christ. Of course, the Church of over one billion people today is not a mirror image of the relatively tiny Church in the first century Mediterranean we read about in the New Testament—nor should it be. The Church’s organization and outward forms are dynamic, not static, and must change to meet the needs of the age—yet the Church remains the same Church believing the same Faith.
The Church’s doctrine also grows and develops—never contradicting itself, but deepening with years of reflection and clarification. For instance, it was not until Christ’s divinity was denied that the Nicene Council gave us the Creed we profess each Sunday at Mass, which states precisely what we do and do not believe about our Lord. And so the grows the Church until the consummation of time.