General audience May 29, 2013
The Church is God's call to be part of His family
In spite of the rain that suddenly fell on Rome Wednesday morning, Pope Francis followed his custom of winding through St. Peter's Square in the Popemobile, greeting the tens of thousands of people present and, before beginning his catechesis, he joked with them, praising their endurance in spite of the inclement weather.
The mystery of the Church will be the theme of Pope Francis' new cycle of catechesis during the Wednesday general audiences. "It is a mystery that we all live and in which we all take part," he said.
The Pope will discuss this topic in light of Vatican Council II texts. Yesterday, he began from the parable of the prodigal son that illustrates God's plan for humanity, and from John 19:32-35:
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.
Here is a summary of the Holy Father's talk:Last Wednesday, I spoke about the profound link between the Holy Spirit and the Church. Now I would like to talk about the mystery of the church, using some expressions from Vatican Council II.
The first one I would like to talk about is the Church as the family of God, which calls to mind the parable of the prodigal son and the merciful father.
Return of the Prodigal Son
"Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him;
and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet..."
The son makes a mistake and he knows it. He thinks he is not worthy to be a son, and so he comes back as a servant. It is the father who restores him as a son. This is God’s design for humanity! He makes of all of us one family, one family of his sons. Each one is close to him, loved by him. This great design has its root in the Church. The Church is the work of God, born from the sign of His love and from God's desire to call all men to communion, friendship, sonship, to participation in his divine life.
The word "church" comes from the Greek work "ekklesia": convocation. God calls us out of individualism and being closed off from one another to be one in his family. He created us so that we would live in a profound friendship with Him.Sin ruins that friendship, but God does not abandon us in our sin—that is the history recorded in the bible: Abraham and history of the Chosen People, and eventually Jesus. Jesus had a little community that became His family; they took his word and lived with Him.
Now, the Church is born from the side of Christ. Blood and water are symbols of Baptism and the Eucharist. [See the reading from John above.]We make real our love of God through love of others. We make it concrete, so that in the Church we are loved and we love one another.
The church was born at Pentecost, which we celebrated 2 weeks ago. What about people who say, “Jesus, yes; Church, no!”? But isn't it the church who brings us to Christ and to God? The Church has human aspects because we are human. We are pastors and faithful with imperfection, sins, yes, even the Pope—he has a lot of those! But when we acknowledge that we are sinners, this is beautiful: we find the mercy of God. He always forgives. Never forget this: God always forgives.Let's ask ourselves: How much do I love the curch? Do I pray for the Church? Do I participate in my Church's life? Faith is a gift, but God asks us to live our faith together as a family, as a Church.